Shivani Singh, 18 wondered if she will be able to play cricket. She had come from “all the way” from Kandivali to Dharavi to participate in a cricket match. She was one of the two girls selected by SNEHA to play in the three-team tournament in Dharavi. The three teams were selected from communities at Dharavi, Kandivali, and Ghatkopar where SNEHA works extensively.
“I can dance. I have never played cricket,” said Shivani who goes to college.
Nagesh Kori, 17, another collegiate in her team quipped, “That’s because you’ll never play with us. We play galli cricket all the time.” They were watching their team-mates open the batting against Ghatkopar team.
“Rubbish! When did you boys allow us to play?” Shivani told him making a face.
In the meanwhile, one of her team-members, Rashida Shaikh, 18, gets out on the first ball. As per the rules, it was compulsory for one girl to open an innings.
“You please don’t get out like this,” said Shahid Sheikh, 17, Shivani’s teammate. He rolls his eyes when Shivani asks him questions related to the rules of cricket.
Soon, Shahid was cheering for Rohit Kanojjia, 19, who had stepped in to bat for the team. Sure enough, Rohit hits many sixes and fours much to the glee of his team members.
In the third over, Mayuri Mhasde, 15, a puny girl from Ghatkopar team started bowling (it was compulsory for the girls to be given one over in the match).
Rohit happily hit the first two balls for four and a six. In her third ball, she bowled him out. Rohit looked at the wicket in disbelief. The team eventually made 138 runs.
Mayuri was however, disappointed. “I could have taken another wicket. It turned out to be a no-ball,” she said.
She has been playing cricket for over two years now. “We play every day between 2 pm to 4 pm. Even my sister who is a complete recluse plays with us,” said Mayuri.
Her sister, Sonali, 18, who studies in college, also plays cricket, and is part of NCC cadet. “I want to join the army after I finish my graduation,” she said.
Another girl from Ghatkopar but from a different locality, Kajal Bhandare said that in her locality, girls are not allowed to play. “My brothers take me everywhere. So I got to play cricket,” she said.
When Mayuri went out to bat for Ghatkopar, she got out soon. “My captain, Shashank Uthale asked me to get out. I can play well. I can hit four easily. Hitting sixes though is tough for me,” she said vehemently. The team got out making less than 51 runs with most batsmen making less than one run.
“What Dada, I told you I can play? Why you didn’t let me?” asked Mayuri. Shashank had no answer.
The three team tournament was organised by SNEHA on April 2. The intention was to select a winner for a tournament organised by Indra Darshan Society, Oshiwara. The Society runs a cricket tournament every year to help raise funds a non-profit of their choice. This year, they have chosen SNEHA.
After six matches, Dharavi team emerged the winner. The team will represent SNEHA in the Oshiwara match. In this team, both the girls and boys played in harmony. They practiced for days before the match.