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Yastika Bhatia shakes off the stressful Baroda phase to shine for India | Cricket




All eyes were on left-handed batter Yastika Bhatia as she came in at number 3 for India on Sunday against Australia in the third ODI at Ray Mitchell Oval, Mackay. A 59-run opening wicket score had just ended with Smriti Mandhana out for 22. Opener Shafali Verma and Bhatia had to form a solid partnership for India to beat Australia’s 264 total. No team had chased such a total to win against the home team.

21-year-old Bhatia, who was only playing in her third ODI, showed her decisiveness and stitched a match-winning 101-run stand with Verma. Her 69-ball 64 and Vermas 91-ball 59 helped India set a record chase and went on to win by two wickets. Hailing from Vadodara, Bhatia was selected for the India camp ahead of the Australia tour. She did well in the camp in Benguluru and caught the attention of skipper Mithali Raj with her reckless at bat in the exhibition games.

Rajkuvardevi Gaekwad, chairman of the women’s cricket selection committee, Baroda Cricket Association (BCA), who has been watching Bhatia since she was seven, said: She did well and scored points in the camp. She has done well for Baroda in recent seasons and has been high on the national bill. I have been supporting her since she did well for Baroda in U-19 tournaments. Bhatia scored 41 in the warm-up against Australia and 35 on ODI debut at No. 3. In the second ODI, she was out for No. 4 for nothing.

Bhatia’s decision to play for India was strengthened after she recovered from mental trauma last year. She had a tumultuous time with mental health after she and other members of Baroda’s senior women’s team filed a sexual harassment and public embarrassment complaint against head coach Atul Bedade in March 2020. BCA fired the former Indian player as coach of the women’s team but lifted his suspension. on allegations of sexual harassment. Although his suspension was withdrawn, given the sensitivity of the case, it was decided not to enlist his services for the women’s team.

The mental stress also led to Bhatia missing two state games for Baroda.

It was tough for Yasti. She consulted doctors and her sister, who studies medicine, also helped her recover from the trauma. Her parents fully supported her to get out of that zone. She continued with the episode and worked on her training. Since she started playing, she has worked very hard. After she recovered, she focused solely on playing for India, said Gaekwad, who backs Bhatia to also do well in the Pink-ball Test and T20 series.

Bhatia scored a T20 century against Manipur a few seasons ago in the Women’s Under-23 National Tournament as a Baroda skipper. In 2016, she was selected for the India Under-19 probables camp.

Yastika is past that stage and just focused on her form and doing well for India. She has worked hard to make the cut in the Indian team. She has a cool head on her shoulders, Gaekwad said.

With the seasoned Harmanpreet Kaur injured, the young Bhatia has risen to the top and impressed with a calm approach and shots around the wicket. As India’s middle class struggles, she can borrow the strength of youth along with teen opener Shafali Verma.




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