By the time Vrinda Dinesh returned to the hotel in Raipur after a hectic training session with the Karnataka team ahead of the Women’s U-23 T20 Trophy, her phone was flooded with calls and texts from friends and family.
As he scrolled down her WhatsApp, the youngster realised that she was roped in by Women’s Premier League side UP Warriorz for a whopping Rs 1.3 crore. It took her some time to come to terms with it, but she controlled her emotions and spoke to his family before celebrating with the Karnataka team-mates.
Just like her, Vrinda’s father S Dinesh, too, did not imagine that the 22-year-old batter would attract such huge bids in the auction. A former club-level cricketer himself, the Bengaluru-based Dinesh has always advised Vrinda to take it ‘step by step’ and the youngster has taken his dad’s advice seriously.
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Over the past two seasons, she has emerged as one of the prolific scorers and earlier this year, she played a crucial role in Karnataka’s run to the final of the Senior Women’s one-day tournament and amassed 477 runs in 11 innings – finishing as the tournament’s fifth-highest run-getter, behind Jasia Akter and Priya Punia.
Earlier this year, she was not picked for the Emerging Team Cup in Hong Kong. However, with Hyderabad seamer S Yashasri injured, she went in as a replacement player and scored 36 in the final, guiding India A to a victory against Bangladesh.
While Vrinda earned a India A call-up for the recent home T20 series against England A, not many imagined her to earn such huge money in the auction. “I have always told her to live for the day, and just follow the process on a daily basis. That way, she has developed accordingly,” Dinesh told Sportstar.
He, however, agreed that going forward, handling the pressure will be a challenge for Vrinda. “There will be high pressure but you need to find a balance. We can only talk to her, but at the end of the day, it’s she who would be executing the plans. We can only guide her and give moral support and we will ensure that we do that,” he said.
Coming from a family of cricketers, Vrinda fell in love with the sport quite early. “Initially, she used to play a lot on the streets. When I observed her, I realised that she had some natural talent and that’s when I sent her to a local academy,” Dinesh said.
She initially went to the Karnataka Institute of Cricket in Bengaluru before joining coach Kiran Uppoor at the Nice Academy, where Shreyanka Patil also trains.
She travels for 20 kilometres to reach the academy and Uppoor calls Vrinda the most ‘sincere cricketer’ he has worked with.
“I met her when she was 17-18. By then, she was already an established cricketer at the state level. She was a high performer, but she was a young girl who wanted to play for India. She always had that goal. She could give everything to fulfil her dreams and that’s the attitude she had,” Uppoor told this publication.
Once she started training, Uppoor ensured that he worked on the technical and practical aspects of the game. “It was more about sharpening her skills, and that’s how we started working. It was around the COVID times but we decided to give her more time as she did look promising,” he said.
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Vrinda would visit the academy at 9 o’clock in the morning after her gym session. “She kept playing cricket with us from 9am to 6pm. She came regularly and it was a long, long session where she worked on her skill sets. She played on the centre wicket and she put in that effort. She was very sincere about her training, which made it easier for us to coach her and take her to the next level…”
Over the years, Uppoor and Dinesh have made it a point to ensure Vrinda does not get distracted, but they understand that it’s difficult for a youngster to overcome the fact that she has earned such a huge amount of money at such an early age. “Our aim is to keep her focused. She comes from a humble background and has a good upbringing. So, this should not hamper her, rather she should take it as an inspiration to perform even better,” Uppoor said.
It has been an incredible journey so far and now with the world taking note of her consistent performance, it’s time for Vrinda to handle things with maturity and aim higher.