From paddy fields to cricket field, Kerala’s Minnu Mani hits a sixer

Wayanad (Ker), Jul 4 (PTI) Years ago, there was a girl who yearned to step into the paddy field in her tribal hamlet and play cricket with boys in the neighbourhood till dusk at Choyimoola in this district.

The conservative outlook of the community members, the constant chiding by her mother and the reminders of her gender did not dampen the girl’s zeal for playing the game.

With the lessons learnt at the dry mudcrack paddy field here, Minnu Mani is all set to represent the country in the upcoming T20 series against Bangladesh.

The 24-year-old tribal woman belonging to Kurichya community in Mananthavady here recently received her maiden call-up to the Indian Women’s Cricket team led by Harmanpreet Kaur for the Bangladesh tour.

She thus became first ever player from Kerala to be picked in the Indian women’s team.

An elated Minnu Mani said those childhood days on the rough paddy field had actually moulded the fearless cricketer in her.

“During those days, I would play cricket with boys at the field throughout the day. I never wanted to sit somewhere idle. I wanted to jump, run and play and cricket was my passion,” Minnu Mani said.

The woman said she gained the strength to approach the real game with a fearless mindset through the cricket lessons from her village field.

“Boys would use hard tennis balls while playing cricket. Those experiences helped me a lot to gain strength to approach the real game fearlessly,” she recalled.

Though the community members and the family were concerned about her passion for cricket initially, they were very proud of her achievements later.

Mani said her family really wanted to see her enter the national team and was excited that she could make it now.

“I am confident that, I can perform well and showcase my talent during the T20 series,” the cricketer added.

Her immediate family comprises her father Mani and mother Vasantha, both farm labourers, and a younger sister.

Asked about his daughter’s achievement, the father said he was speechless with joy.

The mother said she once used to reprimand her for playing in the paddy field with boys but felt proud about Minnu now.

Vasantha also thanked Elsamma Baby, the physical education teacher of the government village school who first spotted the talent in Minnu Mani during her high school days and extended support to chase her dreams.

At the age of 16, she could find a place in the state women’s cricket team and began her formal journey into the mainstream cricket.

The all-rounder showcased a stellar performance in the recent Senior Women’s One Day Trophy. She was also part of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL).

Though she didn’t get much opportunities in the WPL, Mani said it was a great experience and its lessons would surely help in the upcoming matches.

“The WPL helped to meet several great players, perform and practise with them and learn their attitudes,” the cricketer added.

Cutting across political differences, leaders from various parties lavished praise on Minnu Mani for her historic achievement.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greeted the woman cricketer on social media.

“Congratulations to Minnu Mani on her selection as the first Kerala cricketer in the Indian women’s cricket team! We are extremely proud of you and wish you the very best for this incredible journey ahead. May you continue to shine on the international stage and make Kerala proud,” the CM tweeted.

Congress leader and former Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi said Minnu Mani is creating history.

“After becoming the first Kerala player to be picked for the Women’s Premier League in February this year, she has now added another feather to her cap by becoming the only Keralite in the Indian squad for upcoming women’s T20 series against Bangladesh!” he said in a Facebook post.

He also extended his best wishes to the Kerala cricketer.

Source: PTI News


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