One of the surprise packages in the Indian women’s squad for the tour of Bangladesh is Minnu Mani. Her selection, in the T20 squad, is truly remarkable. It is for the first time that a Kerala cricketer is making it to the senior Indian women’s team.
Kerala may be one of the powerhouses of Indian sports, having produced some of the country’s biggest stars in disciplines like athletics, football and volleyball, but it cannot boast that many huge achievements in cricket, though things are fast changing. In men’s cricket, only four have played for India so far – Tinu Yohannan, S. Sreesanth, Sanju Samson and Sandeep Warrier.
Kerala is no longer the pushover it used to be for decades in men’s cricket. Kerala’s female cricketers are making rapid progress, too. Minnu has been one of the reasons for that.
The off-spinning all-rounder has been performing rather consistently for the last few seasons. She is a superb fielder, too.
“She deserves her spot in the Indian squad,” Nilima Jogalekar, former India wicket-keeper who has watched Minnu quite a lot in her role as a match referee, told Sportstar. “I have found her pretty good in all departments of the game. And it is nice to see Kerala is doing well in women’s cricket. In my time as a player, you hardly came across anyone from Kerala.”
The women’s academy that the Kerala Cricket Association set up in Wayanad has played its part in the development of the game. Minnu is a product of the academy, which is not too far from her home.
The 24-year-old belongs to the Kurichiya tribe, which, according to her, doesn’t encourage girls to take up sports. There has been no stopping Minnu, though.
A few months ago, she was picked up by Delhi Capitals for the inaugural Women’s Premier League. She couldn’t quite make a mark in the three games she played, but her fine show on the domestic circuit wasn’t ignored by the selectors.
She won’t be the first Malayali to play for India, though. That honour belongs to Susan Itticheria, who represented Tamil Nadu, back in the 1970s.
Minnu’s selection should inspire Kerala’s young female cricketers.
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