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Meet Falak Naaz, who braved poverty to make it to India’s U19 Women’s T-20 World Cup squad

18-year-old Falak Naaz of Prayagraj, UP started playing cricket at the age of 12. | Picture by arrangement

18-year-old Falak Naaz comes from a poor family in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. This did not stop her from dreaming to play for national women’s cricket team. Earlier this month, she was selected to be part of the under-19 national team for the upcoming first ever ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa. 

TCN Staff Reporter 

PRAYAGRAJ (UTTAR PRADESH): Braving crippling poverty, 18-year-old Falak Naaz of Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh has made it to the under-19 Indian women’s international cricket team that will represent India in the first ever ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup to be held in South Africa in January 2023. 

Falak was selected for her outstanding all-around performance in Uttar Pradesh junior women’s cricket team. 

A student of class 12, Falak credits her success to her family and coach Ajay Yadav.

“Even though playing cricket for a girl is not so common in our region, my family and coach always supported and encouraged me,” Falak told TwoCircles.net. 

Falak said she started playing cricket only for entertainment. “I soon developed a passion for the game and wanted to make it my career,” she said. 

Falak is raring to go to South Africa for the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup.

“I feel proud to represent my country in the T-20 World Cup and hope to do well in the upcoming matches,” she said. 

The first ever ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup will commence on January 14 in South Africa in which 16 teams are participating. The final of the tournament will be held on January 29. The Indian team will be captained by Shefali Verma.  

Braving odds
Falak’s father Nasir Ahmad works as a peon in a private school while her brother had to leave his studies to work at a cycle repair shop to support their family of seven, which includes their grandparents. Her family lives in a single-room, tin-roofed house in a locality on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Katghar area of Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. 

Falak’s selection in the national team has given hope to her family, and they are elated at her success. 

“After her selection in the under-19 team, I feel proud,” her father Nasir told TwoCircles.net.

“Our financial condition was not good to support our daughter’s ambitions. However, her hard work has was rewarded. We are proud that our daughter is playing for the country. We are praying that Falak performs well in the matches ahead,” Falak’s mother Zeenat Bano told TwoCircles.net. 

Passion for cricket
Falak started playing cricket at the age of 12. She could not get admission at any sports academy as her father was not able pay the fee. 

Her fate changed in 2015 when cricket coach Ajay Yadav decided to train her free of cost at his academy.

Falak wanted to become a fast bowler. On the advice of her coach, she decided to work on her batting and bowling and became an all-rounder. Her hard work bore fruit when she was selected for the Uttar Pradesh junior women’s cricket team in 2016. It was her performance here that helped her in securing a place in the under-19 Indian women’s cricket team.

Falak’s coach Ajay Yadav told TwoCircles.net that she is a dedicated person and works hard to achieve what she wants. 

“This is what ensured her place in the U-19 team,” he said. 

“Bowling is her strength but she plays as an all-rounder. Falak can play in any situation and does not come under pressure. I am sure that she will give an outstanding performance in the World Cup,” he said. 

Her family and friends are celebrating her success. They are excited about her selection to the U-19 team. “I have seen Falak’s dedication towards her ambition. It is a moment of joy not only for her but for all of us to see her succeed,” her friend Shipra said. 

Her friends are eager to see her play in South Africa. “We are now eagerly waiting to see her playing on the pitch in South Africa. We are sure that Falak will do well. We are praying for the team to win the T-20 World Cup,” her friend Riya said.