Alfalah University Men. Marwari College Women. Remember these two names, because you might just find yourself hunting for more on them at some point in the future to look up the backstory of the next men’s or women’s cricket star.
In fact, the women from Ranchi were terrific in the field throughout, and smart with their tactics too. They set a six-three field and bowled wide outside off, choking the runs expertly.
“It was an amazing experience for the girls,” Mandhana said. “It’s something that will help them in their careers and make them feel ‘I want to do this. I want to go out there and do it for India as well’. These girls are going to go back and tell others about their experiences here, and the other girls will be like ‘Oh, I also want to experience this.’
“Brands like Red Bull help a lot because they want to grow with the athlete. They want to provide the infrastructure, or whatever we ask for, for us to go out there and perform… Everyone has ideas, to start this and that, but they’ve actually started a women’s team. They thought about it and started.”
Pradhan, who has established herself as a commentator after retiring from the game in 2013, said Red Bull’s arrangements for the finals were impeccable, offering players facilities that are usually available only at higher levels.
“You think that to play at stadiums like [the PCA Stadium in] Mohali, you have to play for India or maybe you’ll have to play for your state – to play at this kind of venue and get this kind of an experience, where people are taking care of you so well…” Pradhan said. “The hotels, teams have been flown out… Only players who play for their country or state get this kind of experience.
“More matches, better exposure in matches, they become better cricketers. And they are getting an experience of what cricket has to offer if they can maximise their talent in the future. Anu [Anamika Kumari] was telling me how she’s only getting a couple of games a season for her state. She’s getting this platform now where she can put up a score. Great to see that even below state cricket we have a structure for girls where they can express themselves.
“There’s plenty of talent, not just in the big centres, but also in smaller towns like Ranchi.”
The men had plenty of notable performances too.
“As a kid I always dreamed of playing under lights,” Parag said. “So I think having a stage like this to showcase your abilities is going to be very big for them. I hope they have lots of fun and learn a lot from this… A platform like this, with sponsors, under lights, with a white ball – it’s a dream for any young cricketer.”
For many cricketers who took part in the Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament, the dream has only begun. They now have a wealth of priceless experience to draw on as they work towards realising those dreams on an even bigger stage.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo