Some Lesser Known Facts About Rajeshwari Gayakwad
- Rajeshwari Gayakwad is an Indian cricketer who plays as a bowler for the India women’s national cricket team. At the domestic level, she has played for Karnataka, Railways, Trailblazers, and Supernovas in domestic cricket. In 2023, she was signed by the franchise team UP Warriorz for the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
- Rajeshwari was born into a musically inclined family. Before Rajeshwari and her siblings ventured into their respective sports professionally, they used to learn music from their father, Shivanand. While Rajeshwari and her sisters would sing, her brother Vishwanath would play the tabla, and Shivanand would play the harmonium. Shivanand spent weekends teaching music to his children. The family had inherited the skill from Rajeshwari’s grandfather, who was a skilled musician.
- Shivanand was also a cricket enthusiast. He used to motivate his children to pursue sports of their interest. Rajeshwari was fond of playing multiple sports while growing up. She used to play Javelin and discus throw, Kho-Kho, and volleyball at school. Soon, she developed a passion for cricket as well. She spent her childhood playing gully cricket with her father and brothers.
- One day, when Rajeshwari was 16, her father learned that a cricket club was conducting a free training camp for girls in Bijapur. Hence, he took Rajeshwari and her younger sister to the selection process following which they started training at Bijapur Women’s Cricket Club. While talking about the onset of her cricketing journey in an interview, she said,
I started playing professional cricket at the age of 16. Before that, I used to play Gully cricket with my father and brothers. My father loved cricket very much and used to play. One day my father came to know that Bijapur Women’s Cricket Club was conducting free training camp for girls. He discussed with the club members and took me and my younger sister Rameshwari to Ambedkar Cricket Ground. On that day, around 200 interested girls turned up for selection. My sister Rameshwari and I got selected for free coaching. It was a happy moment for both of us. This was the beginning of my professional cricket career.”
- It was the head of Bijapur Women’s Cricket Club Basavaraj Ijeri who first discovered Rajeshwari’s sporting talent. At the club, she trained other various coaches including Ashok Jadhav, Saleem T T, Shridhar Joshi, Kalal, and AG Patel.
- Initially, she was a fast bowler, but soon she switched over to spin as her coach Ashok Jadhav highlighted that she lacked the strength and height to be a fast bowler.
- She secured a place in the Karnataka state team just after two months of formal training.
- Coming from a humble background, Rajeshwari faced a lot of financial problems at the beginning. When she got selected in the Karnataka team, she did not have white trousers and a white T-shirt. Her father bought second-hand trousers for her and got them altered. She used to wear her school white shirt for practice.
- In the state team, she received coaching from Kalpana Venkatacharya, Shantha Rangswamy, and Gayathri.
- On 24 May 2014, her father died due to cardiac arrest while watching India vs West Indies cricket match in Chinnaswamy stadium, Chennai. Consequently, Rajeshwari became the sole breadwinner for her family.
- She joined Indian Railways to support her family and got selected in its cricket team in 2015 and moved to Bengaluru. Later, she was posted to Western Railway (WR) following which she started living in WR quarters in Matunga, Mumbai.
- During the 2017 Women’s ODI World Cup, Rajeshwari made her first appearance in the tournament against New Zealand, replacing Ekta Bisht in the XI. In the match, India took on New Zealand with Rajeshwari picking up her maiden five-wicket haul. Rajeshwari’s match-winning spell of 5/15 was India’s best in the history of the Women’s Cricket World Cup.
- In an interview, her mother highlighted the fact that although Rajeshwari had concluded as one of the top Indian performers at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, she was living in a rented house. She said,
We have been continuously changing houses. My daughter is a successful international cricketer but we still don’t own a house.”
- Thereafter, Water resources minister M. B. Patil gifted her a car worth Rs 5 lakh, but she refused to accept it, expressing that she wanted to buy a house for her family, not a car. She said,
Sir, it’s very kind of you for having made the gesture. But I don’t want a car; I want a house for my family, which includes mother, sister and brothers. Shelter is what we badly need now.”
- She was felicitated by Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) for her impeccable performance at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.
- In 2018, Gayakwad represented IPL Supernovas in the inaugural edition Women’s T20 Challenge; Supernovas beat Trailblazers by 3 wickets.
- She played for IPL Trailblazers for the 2020 and 2022 seasons of the Women’s T20 Challenge. Trailblazers won the 2020 season, beating IPL Supernovas by 16 runs in the final.
- She was named to India D’s squad for the 2021–22 Senior Women’s Challenger Trophy; India D lost to India A in the final. With 7 dismissals, she was the third-highest wicket-taker of the tournament.
- She represented Railways in the BCCI Women’s T-20 (2021-2022) tournament, which defeated Maharashtra by seven wickets in the final.
- She was a part of the winning squad of India D in the 2022–23 Women’s Senior T20 Challenger Trophy. India D defeated India A by 7 wickets in the final.
- She was named to India’s squad for the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.
- She was a part of the Indian squad which clinched a silver medal in the cricket tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. India lost to Australia by nine runs in the final.
- With nine dismissals, Rajeshwari Gayakwad was one of the highest wicket-takers in the 2022 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup in which India won by 8 wickets after defeating Sri Lanka.
- In February 2023, UP Warriorz signed up Rajeshwari for Rs. 40 lakhs for the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
- She grew up idolising Indian former professional cricketer Zaheer Khan. She is also inspired by Ravindra Jadeja.
- Sir Padampat Singhania University honoured Rajeshwari Gayakwad with an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree in November 2022.
- In 2022, Rajeshwari Gayakwad got into a scuffle at a supermarket situated on Vijayapura’s Solapur road in Karnataka. Apparently, the cricketer was visiting the store to buy some cosmetics. The heated argument over the prices of those products turned violent and soon, her friends barged into the shop and attacked the shop owner. The incident was caught on CCTV and the video went viral on the internet. However, none of the parties registered any complaint with the local police. The Economic Times