WPL 2023: Inspired by Shane Warne, Parshavi Chopra forging her own path to success


– Bharath Ramaraj

The Senwes Park is bathed in radiant sunshine. In the backdrop of the picturesque setting, India Under-19 are taking on Sri Lanka Under-19 in a Super Six game. The 16-year-old leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra has the ball in hand, with Vishmi Gunaratne ready to face the offering. The action that follows turns out to be one of the highlights of the World Cup. Parshavi imparts enough revs on the ball and employs the googly. With an electric whir sound, the ball turns past the advancing Gunaratne and rattles the top of off-stump. A few hours later, the dismissal became viral on social media.

Parshavi showcased her skills not just with that one offering, but right through the course of India’s World Cup winning campaign, she spearheaded the attack and finished with a rich haul of 11 wickets. The cricketing landscape took notice of her burgeoning potential as she was picked up by UP Warriorz in the inaugural WPL Auction.

So was Parshavi always interested in bowling wrist-spin and wielding the willow? From where did she get the inspiration to try out the difficult art of leg-spin? To track Parshavi’s journey, one has to travel back to the days when she was passionate about skating. But In 2017, Parshavi ended up watching the Indian women’s team’s fine run in the 50-over World Cup as she started to follow the game keenly. More importantly, she was inspired by a blonde-haired leg-spinner, who captivated the imagination of the public with his aura, deception and mystery. The legendary Shane Warne has inspired generations of kids to take up wrist-spin. The Bulandshahr-born Parshavi is one of them.

“Actually, she is very fond of Shane Warne. She used to follow his bowling action, because Warne is one of the all time great bowlers,” her coach, JP Nautiyal, told Rev Sportz. “I first met her when she was about 13 years old. Earlier, she used to bowl medium pace and then we converted her into a leg-break bowler. In the beginning, she found it a little bit difficult. But after two-three months, she picked it up very fast.

“In the beginning, she started in the skating field. But her family – father, grandpa, uncle – are all cricketers, like some of them have played at the junior level and club cricket. (At) that time, they used to see matches on TV. (She was) seeing the matches and asking questions, and when our World Cup team in 2017 did well, she started taking interest in cricket also,” he added.

Nautiyal also gave a sound piece of advice, which in turn helped Parshavi to carve out the right path. “I told her, ‘don’t follow his (Warne’s) action, look at his bowling variations, how he releases the ball… all these technical things’. She started bowling well, she competed in trails and all. First, she got selected in the Under-16 UP team, that time she was one of the top wicket-takers in India in Under-16. Then the same year, she was selected in the Under-19 also; she was the second highest wicket-taker in Under-19.”

One of the salient features of a promising bowler is the ability to bowl a good stock ball. As Warne himself says in his Autobiography – No Spin: “The first thing I look for in young spinners – off-spin, left-arm spin orthodox, wrist-spin – is how much they spin the ball. Same as a fast bowler, I want to see them bowl fast; swing bowlers, let’s see them swing, seamers, hit the seam.” A particular dismissal in a trial match exemplified Parshavi’s prowess to impart purchase on her stock ball – the leg-break.

“Previously, she got selected in trial matches. So (she bowled to) one of the best players at that time, Priya Punia. She bowled a very good flighted one, the batter came out of the crease to loft over extra cover, she beat her in the air and got stumped. She is a very big turner of the ball,” her coach notes.

Bowling spin requires more than just having the weaponry. At a time when batters are clearing the boundary boards frequently, a spinner’s mental toughness is also tested. Parshavi’s father, Gaurav Chopra shares an anecdote that gives evidence about the 16-year-old’s courage.

“She was playing against Assam, that was her debut match, she got injured, she got hit on her lips. Then she came back to the pavilion, and the coach suggested her not to go again. But she said, ‘I will go (back to the field) once again’. She took three wickets in that match and took player of the match.” So it isn’t surprising that through the course of the Under-19 World Cup held in South Africa, Parshavi showcased maturity beyond her tender age.

Her father makes one more observation that gives a sneak peek into how Parshavi embraced the pressure of playing in a big tournament. “The reason behind her success in the World Cup is that she has played almost 200 matches, 200 friendly matches. Her confidence level was very high. When I had a word, she told me, ‘I am treating all these matches as friendly matches’. Even before the final match she told me, ‘I am treating this as a normal match. If I think I’m playing the final match, then I will lose my concentration’. That is why she bowled really well.”

Despite all the accolades and achievements at a young age, Parshavi’s coach points out that her bowling is still a work in progress, with a few uneven edges that need to be polished. “Alongside her regular leg-spin, she has pretty good control on her googlies. She is very young, just 16 years old, and doesn’t have much confidence in her variations. What if extra runs are given? The team will be in trouble, right? So now we will work on it and see what happens.”

Parshavi’s favourite cricketer, Warne had said in his Autobiography: “Leg-spin is no half-hearted journey. You have to love to bowl leg-spin.” While watching Parshavi in the Under-19 World Cup, it felt as if she was enjoying the process of sending the opposition batters into a tail-spin with a box of tricks. Hopefully, she will continue to do the same in the WPL and beyond, and write her own fairytale scripts.


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