Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Amelia Kerr had an excellent take a look at this left-arm spinner she hadn’t heard of in her six-year worldwide profession, because the Mumbai Indians sweated it out forward of the Ladies’s Premier League.

Kerr, who famously took 5 for 17 along with her leg-spin after cracking 232 not out off 145 balls as a 17-year-old in an ODI for New Zealand towards Eire again in 2018, stated to teach Charlotte Edwards and captain Harmanpreet Kaur: “She is very good. She is going to do well.”

Saika Ishaque is doing properly certainly. In her first 4 video games, she took 12 wickets to stake an early declare for the WPL’s purple cap.

Saika’s efficiency could not have shocked Kerr and the MI camp. However, for the remainder of the world, she has been a revelation. Largely an unknown amount even in India till just lately, she has, to date, been the discover of the WPL.

Final November, this correspondent watched her bowl within the T20 Challenger Trophy at Raipur. It was the final probability for fringe gamers to draw the eye of the potential franchises of the potential girls’s league (the WPL hadn’t been introduced but).

Saika had turned 27 the earlier month, so time was working out. She obtained to play solely two matches. Within the first, she took two for eight from 4 overs. A type of victims was the skilled Indian batter Jemimah Rodrigues, whom she clean-bowled.

Making an impression

She regarded spectacular: she was correct, assured, bowled in the appropriate areas and had extra tempo than most feminine spinners did. She was smiling broadly when she posed for the {photograph} after the match on the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium.

That smile continues to be on her face, half-way into the WPL. She is having fun with her success, which has not come on a platter for her.

Alternative knocked on her door on the public sale.

“After my performance at the Challenger Trophy, where I was playing against some of India’s best, and doing well generally on the domestic circuit, I was hopeful about the auction,” Saika advised The Hindu. “But I was delighted that Mumbai Indians picked me; I have been a fan of its IPL team and of Suryakumar Yadav.”

MI coach Edwards, one of many recreation’s most iconic gamers with over 10,000 worldwide runs for England, was satisfied that Saika was prepared for the massive league. She pencilled her within the eleven for the WPL’s inaugural match — Mumbai Indians vs. Gujarat Giants.

“I had watched some videos of Saika, liked her pace and felt she could be a real threat,” says Edwards. “Jhulan Goswami [MI mentor and bowling coach] knows her from playing in Bengal and she was pretty confident that she could do the job.”

Exceeding expectations

Saika has exceeded expectations. “She has bowled in most phases — the PowerPlay, the middle overs and the death,” says Edwards. “She has got some of the best players in the world out.”

Silencing the massive weapons: Meg Lanning is certainly one of a number of high gamers Saika has obtained the higher of.
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Certainly. Saika’s victims embody Meg Lanning, Tahlia McGrath, Alyssa Healy, Sophie Devine, Shafali Verma and Jemimah. Most of her wickets have been bowled or lbw — one thing she is blissful about.

The best way she cleaned up each Shafali and Jemimah in the identical match was spectacular. After maintaining Shafali quiet for a few balls, she flighted one and yorked the right-hander.

The off-stump of Jemimah, who was attempting to chop, was rattled by a faster one.

Watching Saika doing that at Navi Mumbai’s D.Y. Patil Stadium was, from Kolkata, the person who performed a key position in her growth as a bowler. Shibsagar Singh, a former Bengal left-arm spinner, had no affiliation with girls’s cricket till he obtained a name from Saika two years in the past.

“Talking to her, I realised that she was feeling very low; she had been out of the Bengal team for three years,” says Shibsagar. “Three years is a long time for any profession. So I could understand her plight and I told her that I had also gone through a similar phase as a cricketer. She told me she was not able to do what she wanted to with the ball. She was not getting the ball to spin and the ball was not landing properly.”

The next day, they began work. “I could see that she was talented and told her that she would play for India one day, but a lot had to be done,” says Shibsagar. “I worked on her action and on increasing her speed, made her practise bowling different lengths. When she came to me, she was a bit confused about her bowling, and she was trying to do too many things. I also made her train with my male wards.”

Coming full circle

For Saika, that might have felt like her cricket life coming full circle. She had begun taking part in with boys. They usually all thought she was a boy. “I had short hair and looked quite like a boy,” she says with a chuckle. “I was about nine then. When they found out that I was a girl, I felt embarrassed. They stopped talking to me.”

Saika began taking part in cricket as a result of her father wished her to. “He used to take me along to watch Mohammedan Sporting’s football matches,” she recollects. “One of his friends — I think his name was Babloo — took me to that boys’ academy and later to another, where Jhulan trained.”

Saika misplaced her father a number of years in the past. “He would have been happy to see me play the WPL,” she says. “I am living my father’s dream.”

Hatching a plan: MI head coach Charlotte Edwards was convinced Saika could be ‘a real threat’ and the team management has deployed her in every phase of the innings. 

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Hatching a plan: MI head coach Charlotte Edwards was satisfied Saika may very well be ‘a real threat’ and the staff administration has deployed her in each section of the innings.
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Particular Association

Her WPL debut, she says, was a nerve-racking affair. “I was nervous because I was going to play in front of a big crowd and the match was being telecast live,” she says. “I was also nervous because I knew my family and my friends would all be watching.”

The nerves didn’t appear to have an effect on her bowling although, as she got here on within the fifth over of the GG innings. She took a wicket along with her fourth ball, bowling Annabel Sutherland.

“Then I took a wicket in my second over and then in the third,” says Saika. “I took a wicket in every over. In the next match, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, I was bowling against two of the world’s best batters [Smriti Mandhana and Devine] in the PowerPlay.”

She eliminated Devine to provide MI the breakthrough. She went on to take three wickets every in her subsequent two video games, showcasing what a profit the WPL might show to be for Indian girls’s cricket.

There’s nonetheless fairly a little bit of cricket to be performed within the WPL. “Then I want to play for India,” she says.

It doesn’t sound like a distant dream.

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