Cricketers and their association with the army are no obscure. While Sachin Tendulkar joining Air Force and MSD’s craze for the army are known, there are many army men who have played this gentleman’s game, one of the prominent names being Sri Lanka’s Ajanta Mendis.
Then there is this young lady who became Flight Lieutenant before turning to cricket which many have not even heard of! Yes, we are talking about Shikha Pandey!
Born on 12 May 1989 in a small town of Karimnagar, Shikha was an academically bright student in her younger days. Her notable academic achievements include scoring 90+ in her Class 10 and Class 12 CBSE exams.
At an age when academically bright students dream of pursuing higher education and perhaps going abroad, there was one little incident that changed Shikha’s life. A lecture from an officer from Services motivated her to join the Air Force.
According to her, “It’s an age where most people contemplate a career. Around that time, an officer from the Services came down to my school to give a lecture on a career in the Indian Air Force as the school was situated in a defense set-up. That fired my imagination and I decided then that I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. The desire to serve the country was so big and my first route towards that dream was to do engineering. I just gave the exam randomly and I got through,” she laughs. She completed her Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Electrical and Electronics from Goa College of Engineering.
“Even at that stage, I wasn’t too keen on a job because cricket was the only thing in my mind. I didn’t make it to the England team then and as destiny had it, I joined the Indian Air Force.”
Shikha got her first taste of professional cricket at the age of 17 U-19 Goa, U-19 South Zone and several others sides in 2007-08. Her performances in U-19 tournament in Hyderabad paved her way into the South Zone side when she scored 3 half centuries for Goa. She also went on to lead Goa in Senior Women’s T20 tournament.
Shikha got selected to represent India and made her T20 debut against England at Scarborough. A right-handed batsman who can chip in with useful dabble-dobbly medium pace, Shikha has represented India in 2 tests, 27 ODIS and 22 T20Is for India.
Shikha’s tale is yet another inspiring one which gives the message, “It’s never late to pursue something you love!”
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 28, 2017