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Women’s Premier League: Leg-spinning talent from the land of football

'I’m a big Arsenal fan. So being a Gunner at heart, I was trying to replicate (Leandro) Trossard’s celebration to have some fun,' said the 32-year-old leg-spinner Asha Sobhana.
Last Updated 25 February 2024, 21:53 IST

Bengaluru: In recent times, Kerala, the land of football, is making news for churning out cricket stars at least in the women’s game. First it was Minnu Mani in the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) and on Saturday it was little-known Asha Sobhana who stole the spotlight. 

The 32-year-old leg-spinner bagged a fifer that turned out to be the game-changer in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s two-run win against UP Warriorz at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Saturday. Though the way she claimed her wickets made the crowd erupt with joy, it was her celebrations right after each one that became the hot topic.  

“I’m a big Arsenal fan. So being a Gunner at heart, I was trying to replicate (Leandro) Trossard’s celebration to have some fun,” she shared. 

That’s how far away from football one can try to keep a Keralite! But cricket has her complete heart. Making bats out of coconut tree branches with ‘10’ etched over it to depict Sachin Tendulkar's jersey number which has been retired, Asha grew up in the humble bylanes of Thiruvananthapuram playing the game in the neighbourhood. 

“We played with paper balls that were wrapped in empty plastic milk covers tied with rubber bands. I was crazy about cricket growing up. Thanks to my brother who wanted to become a cricketer but couldn’t and all my neighbours for encouraging me to play on the streets. During those years I didn't even know women’s cricket existed,” she reminisced. 

Born to an autorickshaw-driving father and a home-maker mother, Asha is a regular on the domestic circuit from the last 15 years, representing her State and Railways where she honed her skills.

“The standards at the international level are different. But the situation we faced in the first match (RCB vs UPW) wasn’t new to me. We play tough cricket at the domestic level too. So I knew how to control my mind and calm myself after playing so many years within India that has given me confidence to apply it at the top level,” offered the uncapped player. 

The bowler, however, will be taking all the time to get used to the fact of sharing the dressing room with some of the biggest names of women’s cricket such as Sophie Devine, Smriti Mandhana and Ellyse Perry. 

“Yeah, I cannot believe it sometimes. WPL has changed not just my life but so many players especially those from domestic cricket. It (WPL) will change more lives. Everybody can dream now,” she expressed. 

Asked about her parents' reaction to her life-changing moment that also gave her the player of the match trophy, she said: "They don’t know too much about cricket but recharged the cable connection to watch me play yesterday. They were only worried if I ate and slept well after the match."

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(Published 25 February 2024, 21:53 IST)

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