While all eyes were on India women team stars Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Harmapreet Kaur in the ongoing T20 Women’s League, 26-year-old Nagaland opener Kiran Prabhu Navgire stole the limelight with scintillating batting.
In seven matches for Nagaland, Navgire aggregated 525 runs—the highest— hitting 35 sixes and 54 fours. With 303 runs in seven games for Haryana, Verma is the second highest scorer.
In her first game for Nagaland, Navgire made 162 off 76 balls making her the first Indian man or woman to score over 150 runs in a T20 match. Before Navgire, Shreyas Iyer had come closest with 147 off 55 balls for Mumbai against Sikkim.
Owing to Navgire’s three half-centuries and one ton, Nagaland qualified to the knockout stage in a domestic tournament for the first time since getting BCCI’s affiliation in 2018. Even though, Navgire scored 56, her fourth half-century, against Kerala Nagaland could not win the match in Surat and make the quarter-finals.
“I was really heartbroken. I was enjoying batting out there. Unfortunately, I got out. I wanted Nagaland to reach the final. Maybe next time, we can do it. But I am very proud that I made the decision of shifting to Nagaland. I got a platform to showcase my skills,” said Navgire, who switched from Maharashtra this season in search of better opportunities.
She played for Maharashtra in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2021 season, she was not selected in the state team. Disappointed, she opted to move to Nagaland for 2021-2022.
Before 2016, Navgire was a javelin thrower who also took part in shotput and running events in Solapur. Her athletics prowess had fetched Nivgire 115 medals from district, state and national competitions. Cricket hadn’t crossed her mind until she moved to Ahmednagar near Pune to pursue a college degree in physical education. It was at Ahmednagar where she met Gulzar Shaikh, a cricket coach who was impressed by her strength. Daughter of a farmer in Solapur, Navgire had grown up working in the fields with her father and hurling the javelin.
“I had a very athletic body and strong arms since childhood as I would spend hours in the fields. I had no clue there was cricket for women. Gulzar Sir asked me to play in a match at Ahmednagar. I just swatted the ball around the park in 2016. I hit lots of sixes in the game. So, he told me to train as a batter. I would coach school teams and earn a quick buck to support myself. I used second-hand cricket gear,” said Nivgire, who idolises MS Dhoni.
“I love hitting big shots. Due to Covid, I did not get much chance to play in 2020. Nagaland wanted batters, so I applied. Nagaland was not winning matches before, so I thought I will lift the team with my performance. From here I want to build on the good form. And play for India and also go for T20 international women leagues,” said Navgire, who played a one-day tournament for Nagaland last year and scoring 180 runs and taking 12 wickets. Nagaland won all six matches in the Plate Group league games.
“I enjoyed playing for Nagaland in the one-dayers and then prepared hard for the T20 tournament. I hope some franchise takes me in their team in the Women’s Indian Premier League next year when it happens for the first time.”