Yastika Bhatia And Her Quest For Perfection
Yastika Bhatia: Practice Makes Perfect For The WPL And India Star

A force to reckon with across formats, Yastika Bhatia is quickly becoming a regular in Team India’s starting lineup. Thanks to Hyundai Motor India’s continuous efforts to recognise & motivate rising sport stars, the newest member of #TheDriveWithin Campaign, Yastika Bhatia shares her quest for perfection

It’s not even been two years since Yastika Bhatia made her international debut, and yet she has achieved things that might get a bit overwhelming for anyone to process. She is among the handful of women’s cricketers who played a Test match for India, featured in the Women’s ODI World Cup last year in New Zealand, in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, and this year she played in the T20I Women’s World Cup. 


All boxes have been ticked, which is not bad for someone who didn’t always want to be a cricketer. Bhatia dabbled in everything from swimming to Karate and badminton as a kid, and only resolved to put all her efforts into being a cricketer after she reached 12. It was a half-century she scored against the U-14 boys that gave her the self-belief to pursue cricket single-mindedly, and her parents always stood by her decision.  


“It was my decision as I was passionate about the game my parents helped me by providing all the necessary support,” says Bhatia, who will be seen in Mumbai Indian’s jersey in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League.  


Other than being a brilliant sportsperson, Bhatia was always an academically bright student, coming from a family of doctors and engineers. “There was no pressure from my parents. They asked me what I want to do after I scored 89% in 12th standard” quips Bhatia, adding that they got her enrolled into a relatively easy course at a private university, just so she could focus on her game. “Since the course was not hard, I could easily manage my exams even if it happened to be in the middle of a series,” she tells. 


Bhatia, who admires the great Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist, toiled hard for years in the domestic circuit, consistently piling up runs for her Baroda team, but it was her 145 against Haryana that brought her to selectors’ consciousness. Soon after she ended up slamming an unbeaten half-century against India A.  




In 2021, she found her name on the teamsheet for the first match of the ODI series against Australia. She came to bat after India lost both their openers inside the first six overs, and forged a crucial 77-run partnership with the veteran Mithali Raj to pull India out of trouble. Although she could only manage 35 on her debut, she provided a glimpse of her ability to remain unfazed in the face of crisis. Looking at her debut in Australia, Bhatia says, “I was thrilled and excited. I had a really hard time after being dropped from the Indian squad for the England series, and was desperate to prove myself.” Yastika was ready to grab the opportunity with both hands, having spent a considerable time in the gym and the training session.  


Two weeks later, she made her T20I debut in the rain-curtailed match against the same opponents. Yastika’s batting is a throwback to the bygone era when the batters could take their time on the crease without worrying about the plummeting strike rate. It’s still important for a team to have someone who can patiently rebuild an innings in the face of an impending collapse. But this trait should also be complemented by an ability to play a quick, breezy knock if the situation demands, and this is where Bhatia struggled in international cricket. 


It always looked like her T20I game needs extra gear, a fact even she won’t refute. After a string of mediocre outings, she was dropped from the team soon after India lost to Australia in the final of the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. While it was only natural for Yastika to be disappointed by the snub, she didn’t let it cloud her mind, and instead went into training mode instantly. “I badly wanted to make a comeback and talked about it with my coach. I am a very passionate person and if I always end up achieving anything that I put my mind and soul onto,” says Bhatia.  


The road to forcing her way back into the Indian team, however, was anything but easy. She worked hard on her fitness, tweaked her game, and tried to inculcate the missing elements in her batting. A lot of effort has been put into improving power-hitting to excel in T20I, says Bhatia, who, now feels, is “fully versed with all formats of the game”. 


The result was visible in the Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy, a premier domestic T20 tournament for women’s cricketers. In four matches, Bhatia totalled 203 runs at an astounding average and strike rate of 203 and 131 respectively. Against India C in Raipur, Bhatia slammed an unbeaten 99 off 66 deliveries, comprising seventeen boundaries, to lift India D to 165 in 20 overs. She ended the tournament with a match-winning unbeaten 80 to guide her team to an easy victory in the final. A prolific outing forced the Indian team management to reconsider their judgement, and they added Bhatia back into the squad for a five-match series against Australia.  


“To be honest, I didn’t imagine making a comeback so quickly, but I knew the amount of hardwork I had put in will never go in vain. I was pleasantly surprised by the results I got in the domestic season,” explains Bhatia, and admits that she became a totally different player with an “increased self-belief” after the domestic season.  


Bhatia’s aim now is to translate her domestic form on the international level, and also for the Mumbai Indians in the WPL. She landed a lucrative contract worth Rs 1.5 crore from a team that she had supported since her childhood days. WPL comes in at a time when women’s cricket is  gaining popularity in India, asserts Bhatia, who is also excited to be a part of Hyundai Motor India’s #TheDriveWithin campaign. “While there has been a great response from the audience, brands like Hyundai Motor India are also taking a stand to support Indian women cricketers by associating with us. #TheDriveWithin campaign underlines Hyundai Motor India’s unwavering support to the upcoming talent in the world of women’s cricket,” adds Bhatia. 


When the auction was being telecasted, Bhatia only prayed to get picked by any team. She wasn’t bothered about the amount, but a bidding war between franchises escalated her price to the north of Rs 1 crore.  


“It was unbelievable,” describes Bhatia. “I had not imagined being picked up by a team at such a high price. I just prayed for getting picked by one of the franchises, but it was a dream that came true after Mumbai Indians submitted the winning bids in the auction,” adds Bhatia, whose last T20I appearance for India came earlier this year in an agonising five-run defeat to Australia in the T20I World Cup. The WPL will provide her with a perfect platform to hone her attacking game that she has been working on.  


At Mumbai, she will be sharing the dressing room with her Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur, the English star Natalie Sciver-Brunt, the Kiwi batter Amelia Kerr, and the young pace sensation Isabelle Wong among others. A good outing in the WPL will go a long way in securing her place in India’s squad across formats. 



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