Indian Women Cricket’s Silent Star, the Unglorified Punam Raut
From Mumbai’s chawl to Lord’s stadium, Punam Raut came a long way.
Women’s cricket is still unknown to many of us, so knowing about Punam Raut is quite esoteric.
History – An Overview (H2)
Punam Raut was born on October 14, 1989, in a lower-middle-class family in Prabhadevi. She has one brother (Vipul Raut) and one sister (Shrutika Ghadi Pevekar).
Growing up with a fondness for cricket, Punam Raut wanted to pursue the sport full-time. However, her father, Ganesh Raut was a car driver and they had access to limited resources.
But luck shined through when her father’s boss gave them Ten thousand rupees for Punam to follow her dreams. This was a huge and generous amount at that time. Ganesh Raut is still extremely grateful for his boss’s contribution. Had it been not for him, we could have lost a great sportswoman just because her financial situation didn’t support her.
Punam’s father immediately bought a new kit, shoes, and outfit for Punam. Moreover, her father even admitted her to Shiv Seva Sports Club which was a cricket academy overseen by a coach named Sanjay Gaitonde.
An Unprecedented Incident
Just before a day of her first-ever cricket trials, Punam’s mother passed away. The whole Raut household was shaken and in deep grief from her mother’s demise.
However, it was Ganesh Raut, her father, who supported her and took her to the trials. He also encouraged her to just play and focus on the game.
Due to her father’s immense support and encouragement, Punam qualified for both Under – 14 and Under – 19.
From then on, there was no looking back.
Punam Raut went on to play with the Railways team and subsequently debuted for the Indian National team to play for Indian women matches in 2009. She became a linchpin and an indispensable player in the opening position for team India.
Some of the most memorable Indian Women’s Match she’s played are mentioned below (h3)
Women’s Quadrangular Series, South Africa
Punan Raut and Deepti Sharma with their excellent sportsmanship created history by becoming the first cricketing pair to share a 300-run opening partnership in Women’s ODIs. They set the record at the league match of the Women’s Quadrangular Series in South Africa, posting 320-runs for the first wicket in 45.3 overs. It was the first time that a Women’s ODI pair had scored a 300+ runs stand. This partnership could have lasted longer had it not been for Raut’s injury. However, she still managed to score 109 runs, her highest score in ODI.
2018 ICC Women’s World Cup, England
The best series performance from Punam Raut came in the Women’s World Cup of 2018. where she played some of the most consistent and best knocks of her career.
She scored 86 runs against England in the first match, which was very significant, and led the team to an easy win with seven wickets and 45 balls to spare.
She again scored a crucial 47-runs (the highest of the match) in a low-scoring match against Pakistan where India finished with 169/9. However, they went on to defeat their neighbors quite comfortably, sending the Pakistan team for a paltry 74 runs.
Her best performance of the tournament thus far came in the group-stage match against Australia, in which she scored 106 runs. Her efforts, though, went in vain, as the team was defeated by Australia and they lost the match by 8 wickets.
In the finals, Raut opened the game. India had restricted the hosts to 228 runs. They needed a good opening partnership to surmount the tricky total.
And Raut was again ready to deliver. She scored an inspiring knock of 86-runs against England to provide a good foundation for her side to build upon. However, the visitors fell just short of the target, after a middle-order capitulation. She was the highest scorer in that match.
Adapting a good form is a test but maintaining that good form is even harder. Not only does a player have to deal with the emotional stress of being axed, but also the challenge of raising one’s game to optimal level once again.
Punam Raut is one of the players who faced this challenge twice and came back with sheer grit and determination to make her way back to the Indian Cricket team.
In March 2016, she was having a tough time, having been ousted from the team. She missed the ODI series against Australia in February followed by solitary innings against Sri Lanka in an ODI series in India. She also missed the 2016 ICC World Twenty20. It seemed like her dreams of playing for her country were slowly fading away.
Even in Domestic one-day internationals and T20I against West Indies, her efforts of a satisfactory performance were ignored.
Her father proved to be a great supporter of her dreams and encouraged her to just focus on her game and continue improving.
With her dominant and top-tier performance, the selectors had no reason not to allow her to play.
She was then selected for the quadrangular series in South Africa that was in May where she let her bat talk and showed everyone her worth and her skills.
The specialty of Punam’s batting style is her ability to play for a long duration of time. The point is highlighted by the fact that she has scored 10 half-centuries and two centuries. Punam also has a healthy average of 32.
She likes to play it safe, build partnerships and then pass on the baton over to the big hitters toward the end of the match.
Punam Raut is a silent star whose efforts and performance remained in the shadows and unglorified.
There are many more like Punam Raut who dedicated their whole life to playing for the country for Indian women matches but are left unseen because there is no awareness among the people. Punam Raut is one of those people, who have faced or are facing many hardships, but they silently do their work with utmost dedication and commitment and give their best.