Chandigarh- a city of quite a few cricket stars. Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh, his son Yuvraj Singh, Ashok Malhotra, Chetan Sharma and Siddharth Kaul all hail from “the City Beautiful”. But there’s one name you probably have not heard as much as the others, holds some significance as well, if not equal. This name is Taniya Bhatia, Indian women’s team first-choice wicket-keeper.
Taniya Bhatia first burst upon the domestic circuit at the age of 11, captained Punjab by 15, moved to India A squad a year later. However, there is no real progress until you face a setback and learn to tackle it head-on. She went in a two-year slump where she almost lost her interest in the sport.
With her back up to the wall, she still fought back and made her international debut in February 2018; represented the Women in Blue in the 2020 Women’s World T20 finals.
This is the story of Taniya Bhatia.
|Full Name||Taniya Bhatia|
|Age||22 (as of 2020)|
|Date of Birth||28 November 1997|
|Parent||Sanjay Bhatia, Sapna Bhatia|
|ODI Debut||11 September 2018 v Sri Lanka|
|T 20 Debut||13 February 2018 v South Africa|
|Batting Style||Right-hand bat|
Taniya Bhatia was born on the 28th of November 1997 in Chandigarh, Punjab. Her father Sanjay Bhatia, like her, was a wicketkeeper-batsman, and so was her uncle. Bhatia picked up the bat when she was four years old. Her father played at the All India University level before turning to the banking sector.
Sanjay discovered her talent and potential during a casual outing. He soon enrolled her to a nearby academy, much to the dismay of his family, including his wife. Unsurprisingly, at the academy, Taniya too wanted to follow her family’s lineage and be a wicketkeeper.
“Wicket-keeping came naturally to me,” she said in an interview. However, her father Sanjay wanted her to be an all-rounder, considering the fact that she bowled beautiful inswingers.
Nevertheless, Taniya prevailed over her father with the support of her coach. Fortunately, the decision turned to be the right as she never grew by height to be a competitive bowler or an all-rounder.
Taniya soon started taking the sport seriously. She even changed her coaching for better development. Her new coach was Sukhwinder Bawa, a batch-mate of Sanjay. At the DAV Senior Secondary School, where she studied, she was coached by former Indian International Yograj Singh.
Being the only girl among the boys helped Taniya improve her game, especially her keeping reflexes. In fact, no one treated her especially, not even Yograj Singh. As a result, when she would go on to play among girls, she would be at great ease considering her robust coaching.
After 4 years at Singh’s academy, Taniya tried her luck for the Punjab trials. She was successful instantly as she joined Punjab’s U-19 team at the age of 12, a state record which is still untouched, Within the year, her incredible performances had earned her a place in the state’s senior side, where she was coached by RP Singh.
Then, she progressed into India A squad, all at the humble age of 16. Playing in the side further helped her game, as Taniya would play against the senior international teams touring India. However, the world seemed to move too fast for the youngster to handle – she entered into a 2-year slump.
Thus, she lost her place in the India A side, a thing that took a toll on Taniya. So much so, that she almost lost interest in cricket. Her place in the state was under threat too. A depressed Bhatia would frequently miss routine practice sessions.
However, her mother Sapna became her emotional anchor and gave her the support Taniya needed. Sapna, in association with her elder daughter, would find ways to motivate the 18-year-old Taniya and pushed her to continue practising regularly.
The support by her kin in spite of her poor form summoned Taniya to do some soul-searching. As she shared her depression phase, she said that she once asked herself whether she was working hard enough to deserve an India call-up. Taniya listed down all her shortcomings and at the top of the list was fitness.
Taniya Bhatia in the second women’s ODI, Sri Lanka
She soon found her purpose and in no time, she was back and running. Taniya pushed her limits and would work as hard as she could. And everything was back to normal. Even today, Taniya acknowledges and, in a way, owes whatever she has achieved and whatever she will in the future, to her parents, who are also her mentors and life-coaches.
Taniya soon returned to become a regular feature in the Punjab senior team. She even captained the U-19 North Zone side in the inter-zonal cricket tournament in Guwahati, 2015. Personally, she finished with 227 runs and 10 dismissals. As a result, she was listed among the 30 probables for the Indian team for 2018 WC.
She also played for India A against Bangladesh in November 2017 before she scored three half-centuries in the U-23 inter-zonal tournament.
Taniya Bhatiya at the 2020 T20I World Cup
Taniya’s big moment came in January 2018 as the 20-year old was called up to feature called up for the series against South Africa. This was the first time she would have the opportunity of playing shoulder to shoulder with her childhood idol Mithali Raj.
In that match, she did not need to bat as India’s top order themselves finished the task with a 7-wicket victory for the visitors. The opener for Punjab plays much lower the order for India. This is meant she would either not get a chance to bat or get very few deliveries to make an impact.
While she has played 45 matches for India, she has batted in only 19 innings of them scoring 145 runs. However, her performance behind the wicket is what has made her a mainstay in the Indian team. She has affected 40 stumpings and 17 catches behind the wicket.
Taniya Bhatia was a part of India’s successful campaign at the ICC Women’s World T20 2018. She became a reliable figure behind the stumps despite not the best performances with the bat, Taniya led the chart for most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in the event, with 11 dismissals (9 stumpings and 2 catches).
Taniya Bhatia was named in the 15-member Indian Women’s team squad for the Women’s World T20. The wicket-keeper-batswoman played in each and every game of the tournament, including the finals.
Taniya’s wicket-keeping performances in the first group match victory over Australia won rave reviews. Fans even compared her performances to former Indian team captain MS Dhoni. However, she couldn’t have much of an impact with the bat, considering she came very late in the innings.
The final, however, ended in an anti-climax for the youngster. Chasing a steep 184 against the hosts Australia, India lost in its in-form star player Shafali Verma for just 2 runs. Instead of the tail end, Taniya was sent in one down.
However, before she could make an impact on the game, Taniya got retire hurt due to concussion and had to return back to the pavilion after putting just 2 runs on the board. India would lose the finale by 85 runs.
However, Shafali would like to learn from this disappointing episode and make amends for it in the upcoming 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup.
Despite being called up for the tour against South Africa in February, Taniya was only able to make her ODI debut in September 2018. Among the ODIs that Bhatia has played, her best performance came against Sri Lanka, where she scored 68 from 66 runs as India won the match.
On 22 February 2019, Taniya came in at 90/5 against England Women at the Wankhede. She went on to build a solid partnership with captain Mithali Raj to steady the ship. Taniya scored 25 in 37 balls as India crossed the 200-mark. The Women in Blue then went on to win the match.
Bhatia has represented India in 15 ODIs, scoring 121 runs in 9 innings. With the gloves, she has made 14 catches and 8 stumpings.
As of February 2020, Taniya Bhatia has not been called up for her Test debut yet.
The Bhatiya Family
Taniya Bhatia’s father- Sanjay Bhatia was a wicketkeeper as well and played as a reserve for Punjab’s team. He later went on to pursue a career in banking. When Taniya made the U19 state team, Sanjay was promoted. Unfortunately, it meant he had to relocate to Jalandhar.
Her mother Sapna took over Taniya’s responsibility despite little to no knowledge about cricket.”Mom made a lot of sacrifices. She used to drop me to the practice in the mornings, and then pick me up also in the evenings. She didn’t go to any family functions outside of the city.”
Her mother stayed at home so that Taniya has someone around just in case of emergencies. Even today if I have practice, or if I am in town, you’ll find her at home. All throughout when my dad wasn’t around in Chandigarh, mum took extra care of my cricket needs even though she understands very little of the game.”
When she turned 18 years, Taniya was undergoing a slump in her career. It was so bad that she lost interest in the game. So much that she had even considered quitting the sport. However, her mother and sister Sanjana became her emotional pillar and helped her through it.
You could that the Bhatia family has wicket-keeping and not blood in their veins. Bhatia’s father and his brother both played cricket, to be specific played as wicket keepers. Inspired by Taniya, her younger brother Sahaj Bhatia also took up cricket. He helms the gloves behind the stumps for Punjab’s U 19 team.