Rajeshwari Gayakwad is an Indian cricketer who plays as a slow left-arm orthodox bowler for the national team. She has represented Karnataka, Railways, Trailblazers and Supernovas in domestic cricket. She was bought by the franchise team UP Warriorz for the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) in 2023.
Rajeshwari Shivanand Gayakwad was born on Saturday, 1 June 1991 (age 32 years; as of 2023) in Bijapur, Karnataka. Her zodiac sign is Gemini. Athletic since childhood, Rajeshwari grew up playing Javelin and discus throw, Kho-Kho, and volleyball during her school days. Later, she developed a passion for cricket as well. She used to play gully cricket with her father and brothers. At 16, she enrolled in the Bijapur Women’s Cricket Club along with her sister Rameshwari Gayakwad after her father, an ardent lover of the sport, came to know that the club was conducting a free training camp for girls. However, coming from a humble background Rajeshwari faced a lot of difficulties at the beginning of her cricketing journey. In an interview, she talked about the same and said,
I come from a poor family. My father was a teacher in Government Primary school. When I got selected for Karnataka Team, I did not have white trouser and white T-shirt. My father bought a second-hand trouser and got it altered. I managed my school white shirt instead of white T-shirt. Whenever I recall those struggle days, I am bound to cry, tears they come automatically. I faced a lot of financial problems.”
At the club, her sporting talent was recognised by Basavaraj Ijeri, the head of Bijapur Women’s Cricket Club. Apart from Basavaraj Ijeri, Rajeshwari received coaching from Ashok Jadhav, Saleem T T, Shridhar Joshi, Kalal, and AG Patel at the club. She was a fast bowler in her initial years; however, Gayakwad switched over to spin when her coach Ashok Jadhav insisted that she did not have the strength and height to be a fast bowler. She secured a place in the Karnataka state team just after two months of formal training. After getting selected in the state team she received coaching from Kalpana Venkatacharya, Shantha Rangswamy, and Gayathri. Her father died of cardiac arrest in 2014 just after her debut international series against Sri Lanka. Thereafter, she became the sole breadwinner for her family. She started living in Bengaluru after securing an honorary job at Indian Railways. Later, she got posted with Western Railway (WR) in Mumbai after which she started living in WR quarters in Matunga, Mumbai.
Height (approx.): 5′ 3″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Shivanand Gayakwad, was a primary school teacher in a government school. He died of cardiac arrest while watching an IPL match with her daughters at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2014. Her mother’s name is Savitha Gayakwad.
She has two brothers, Kashinath Gayakwad and Vishwanath Gayakwad, and two sisters, Rameshwari Gayakwad and Bhuvaneshwari Gayakwad. Kashinath Gayakwad is a professional tabla player, who has won 3 state awards at the district level. Her younger brother Vishwanath Gayakwad is a badminton and volleyball player. Her younger sister, Rameshwari Gayakwad, is also a professional cricketer who plays for Karnataka. Bhuvaneshwari has represented the state hockey team of Karnataka.
Husband & Children
She is unmarried.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad follows Hinduism.
She has represented Karnataka and Indian Railways in domestic cricket. In the Women’s T20 Challenge (2018), the inaugural edition, Gayakwad played for the IPL Supernovas, which won the match by 3 wickets. She was named to IPL Trailblazers’ squad for the 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge, which emerged as the champions of the tournament, beating IPL Supernovas by 16 runs in the final. In the 2022 season of the Women’s T20 Challenge, she again played IPL Trailblazers.
In the 2021–22 Senior Women’s Challenger Trophy, she played for India D, which lost to India A in the final. She was the third-highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 7 dismissals. In May 2022, she was a part of the Railways’ squad which defeated Maharashtra by seven wickets to win the BCCI Women’s T-20 (2021-2022). In the 2022–23 Women’s Senior T20 Challenger Trophy, she played for India D, which emerged as champions defeating India A by 7 wickets.
She made her ODI debut against Sri Lanka at Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam on 19 January 2014. On 25 January 2014, she made her T20 debut against Sri Lanka at Dr PVG Raju ACA Sports Complex, Vizianagaram during the Sri Lanka Women tour of India 2013/14. On 16 November 2014, she made her Test debut against South Africa at Gangothri Glades Cricket Ground, Mysore during the South Africa Women tour of India 2014/15. She was named to India’s squad for the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup. Rajeshwari’s match-winning spell of 5/15 helped India beat New Zealand, booking a semi-final berth at the world cup; her figures were India’s best in the history of the Women’s Cricket World Cup. However, England won the final against India at Lord’s by 9 runs.
She was named to India’s squad for the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, and the cricket tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. India clinched a silver medal after losing to Australia by nine runs in the final at the cricket tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad emerged as one of the highest wicket-takers in the 2022 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup with nine dismissals. India won the tournament after defeating Sri Lanka by 8 wickets.
Women’s Premier League (WPL)
In February 2023, she was bought by the UP Warriorz for Rs. 40 lakhs for the inaugural season of WPL.
Thrashing a Shopkeeper
In 2022, a video went viral on the internet in which Rajeshwari Gayakwad was seen having an altercation with a shopkeeper at a supermarket in Vijayapura’s Solapur road. Reportedly, the cricketer went into the store to buy some cosmetics when a heated argument turned violent. Rajeshwari had an argument with the shopkeeper over the price of some products and they both had a heated exchange of words. Soon, her friends barged into the shop and thrashed the shop owner.
- Growing up, she idolised Zaheer Khan. Later, Ravindra Jadeja became her inspiration.
- In an interview, she attributed her cricketing success to her father. She said,
My father aspired to play serious cricket but never got a chance to express himself. When he realised I had talent, he wanted that I get formal coaching. Initially, I was bowling left-arm medium pace but it was my coach who told me to try left-arm orthodox spin. Within two months of formal coaching, I was playing for the Karnataka state team”
- She was referred to as The Uncrowned Princess of Bijapur following her success at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.
- Although she concluded as one of the top Indian performers at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, she was still living in a rented house. In an interview, following the world cup, her mother said,
We have been continuously changing houses. My daughter is a successful international cricketer but we still don’t own a house.”
She was also felicitated by Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA)
After the world cup, the Water resources minister M. B. Patil gifted her a car worth Rs 5 lakh, which she refused saying that her priority at the moment was to buy a house for her family. She said,
Sir, it’s very kind of you for having made the gesture. But I don’t want a car; I want a house for my family, which includes mother, sister and brothers. Shelter is we what we badly need now.”
- Her jersey number for India Women and UP Warriorz is #1.
- Her batting style is right-hand bat, and her bowling style is slow left-arm orthodox.
- In November 2022, Sir Padampat Singhania University bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree on Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
- She has a tattoo inked on her left arm.