Thursday, October 5, 2023

WPL: Virat Kohli’s pep talk fired me up, says Kanika Ahuja after RCB end losing streak

WPL 2023: 20-year-old Kanika Ahuja hit a 30-ball 46 on Wednesday in Mumbai as she played a starring role in RCB’s first win of the season, which came against UP Warriorz. Kanika spoke about the pep talk that Virat Kohli gave ahead of their must-win match.

By India Today Sports Desk: 20-year-old Kanika Ahuja reveled in what was the biggest moment of her cricket career so far. Smashing a 30-ball 46 against UP Warriorz, the Punjab all-rounder helped end Royal Challengers Bangalore’s losing streak in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL). Even as the big names like captain Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, and Sophie Devine failed, it was the young Ahuja who shone as RCB opened their account in the season.

After 5 losses on the bounce in a woeful start to their campaign in the WPL, RCB were chasing a tricky target of 136 on Wednesday. Kanika walked into bat when RCB were reeling at 46 for 3. It was a familiar situation as the side, low on confidence, has had multiple batting collapses. However, the youngster stepped up and hit a six and 8 boundaries as RCB went past the finish line for the first time in the season.

Addressing the first-ever press conference of her nascent career, Kanika Ahuja credited Virat Kohli’s pep talk for the extra motivation that the team carried for their must-win match in WPL.

Kohli opted not to attend the India men’s team’s optional training session on Wednesday and instead met the RCB squad ahead of their WPL match against UP Warriorz. Kohli will join the squad on the eve of the 1st ODI in Mumbai.

“Virat sir told us there is nothing about pressure here, it is all about the pleasure,” Kanika Ahuja said.

“He told us to not put ourselves under pressure when we are out there in the middle. He said it is a matter of pleasure that we are getting to play here, not everyone gets a similar opportunity,” she added.

Two youngsters stole the show for RCB on the big night as Kanika Ahuja stitched a 60-run stand with Richa Ghosh who chipped in with an unbeaten 30.

“The thing I had in my mind was that come whatever may, we have to win. The target was also low, hence there was time for us to take our time and play accordingly. We waited for loose balls to capitalise,” she said.

Ahuja revealed that her mother was the driving force behind her becoming a cricketer, dedicating this knock to her mother who has been unwell.

“I used to mainly go because my mother would tell me to go out and play and not trouble her at home. If I was at home, I would fly kites on the roof so she would push me to go out and play,” Ahuja said.

“My family didn’t even know that there is cricket for girls. My father told me to focus on my studies as there is nothing in cricket, but my mother would say go and play,” she added.

Despite having won only 1 of their first 6 games, RCB are in contention to reach the play-offs of the inaugural WPL season.

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