Deepti Bhagwan Sharma, born on 24 August 1997, is a name that resonates with cricket aficionados not only in India but around the world. She is an exceptionally talented Indian cricketer who has made her mark as an all-rounder, representing Bengal, Birmingham Phoenix, and the Indian national team. Deepti Sharma is known for her left-handed batting prowess and her skillful right-arm off-break bowling. Currently ranked 3rd among the top all-rounders in the ICC Cricket Rankings, she has left an indelible imprint on the sport.
Early Life and Journey to Cricket Stardom
Deepti Sharma’s journey into the world of cricket is nothing short of inspirational. Born to Sushilaa and Bhagwan Sharma, she is the youngest among her siblings. Her father, a retired chief booking supervisor with the Indian Railways, played a pivotal role in nurturing her passion for cricket.
At the tender age of nine, Deepti began showing a keen interest in the sport, often urging her brother Sumit Sharma, a former Uttar Pradesh pacer and her initial coach, to take her to the cricket ground. Her dedication and enthusiasm were evident during one memorable incident when she effortlessly threw the ball back into play from an astounding 50 meters distance during a net practice session at the Ekalavya Sports Stadium in Agra. It was this remarkable display of skill that caught the eye of Hemlata Kala, a selector for India’s national women’s team, and marked a turning point in Deepti’s life.
A Rising Star in the Making
Despite her remarkable talent, Deepti faced her fair share of challenges on her path to cricket stardom. By the age of 15, she had gained substantial experience but was repeatedly overlooked by state team selectors. However, her all-round abilities slowly began to garner attention from other selectors, notably Rita Dey, a former Indian batter and selector, who took Deepti under her wing and became her mentor.
Initially starting as a medium pacer, Deepti had to transition to slow off-spin bowling. Adapting to this change was no easy feat, but with guidance and counseling from her local coaches and selectors, she honed her skills, especially given her height, which proved advantageous for spin bowling.
Deepti continued to deliver exceptional performances in both state and A-side matches, earning her a spot in the national side. Her debut international match against South Africa in Bengaluru in 2014 marked the beginning of a promising career.
One of Deepti Sharma’s most remarkable achievements was her world-record opening partnership with Poonam Raut, where they amassed a staggering 320 runs. Deepti contributed a phenomenal 188 runs to this partnership, breaking both the existing women’s record (229 runs by Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins of England) and the men’s record in ODIs (286 runs by Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka).
Deepti Sharma’s exceptional performance in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup played a pivotal role in India’s journey to the final, where they narrowly lost to England. She scored 216 runs from 8 matches at an average of 30.86 and claimed 12 wickets. Her best bowling figures, 3 for 59 from 7.1 overs against Australia, demonstrated her versatility as a cricketer.
Deepti Sharma’s career-best bowling figures of 6-20 in the final ODI against Sri Lanka at Ranchi showcased her dominance with the ball.
Domestic and International Glory
Deepti’s domestic career has been equally impressive. Playing for Bengal, she emerged as the top run-scorer in the 2017–18 Senior Women’s Domestic season, amassing 312 runs at an average of 104 in six matches. She also showcased her bowling prowess by taking 9 wickets, with best figures of 3 for 26 against Vidarbha.
In the ongoing 2018–19 Senior Women’s Domestic season, Deepti continued to shine, becoming the top run-scorer with 313 runs from six matches. She notched up two centuries and one half-century during this season, with a high score of 106 not out against Baroda in Bengaluru. Additionally, she claimed 13 wickets, with her best performance being 4 for 12 against Kerala in Bengaluru.
Deepti Sharma’s excellence transcended domestic boundaries as she earned a place in the Indian squad for the 2018 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies. While India reached the semifinals, they were defeated by England.
Recognitions and Beyond
Deepti Sharma’s talent and dedication were recognized when she was awarded the Jagmohan Dalmiya Trophy for Best Domestic Senior Women’s Cricketer by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in June 2018. Her journey continued with a stint with the Western Storm in the Kia Super League in June 2019 and participation in the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.
In 2021, she was named in India’s Test squad for their one-off match against the England women’s cricket team, making her Test debut. She also joined Sydney Thunder in the 2021 WBBL.
As her cricketing career soared, Deepti Sharma was named in India’s squad for the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and subsequently for the cricket tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Deepti Sharma’s remarkable journey in cricket reached a new pinnacle when she was sold to UP Warriorz for a staggering Rs 2.6 crore at the Women’s Premier League Auction in Mumbai on 13 February 2023, underscoring her status as one of India’s premier cricketing talents.
With her all-round abilities and unwavering determination, Deepti Sharma continues to inspire budding cricketers and remains a force to be reckoned with in women’s cricket, both domestically and on the international stage. Her journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit and talent that define India’s sporting landscape.