Shikha Pandey of Chandigarh has performed well for her state of Goa, the South Zone, and in the Challengers Trophy this year, but the seasoned medium-pacer is still dubious of her status for the next T20 World Cup in South Africa. The two-time World Cup finalist (ODI WC in 2017 and T20 WC in 2020) was thrilled when the BCCI confirmed her invitation to the tri-series and the next World Cup. The 33-year-old made a return to a squad without the services of veteran Jhulan Goswami after spending almost 15 months away from the national team.

Although it may be remembered that the 33-year-old was suddenly dismissed from the national team during India’s tour of Australia in 2021, when she made headlines with her delivery to dismiss Alyssa Healy, India will rely on Pandey’s expertise and form in the World Cup.

Pandey discusses her return and the improvements she made to her bowling technique to get wickets this season. Excerpts:

October 2021 was your last game for India. Can you describe your feelings when you were away from the team?

When I was left off the ODI World Cup team last year, I felt devastated, but eventually, my resiliency won out. I made an effort to better focus my energy by raising my game. Being chosen for the tri-series and the World Cup was a nice surprise. I’m pleased with how well I performed for the teams I played for this season, which was my major goal.

How did you maintain your optimism while working on your comeback?

Even though it was a difficult time, I had no choice but to be optimistic because of the road I was on and the objectives I had set for myself. My supportive friends and family, coaches, and well-wishers all supported me along the road. I did have self-doubt, and I had considered giving up. However, my mentors cautioned me against making rash decisions. The trick was successful.

During these months, did you pick up any pastimes that helped you maintain a positive frame of mind?

I’ve always been a huge reader. And I had a good time with my family. All of this was beneficial since it allowed me to give every team I played on throughout the phase my all.