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Women's Cricket

Sajana Sajeevan: Kerala's cricket prodigy who took WPL by storm

From playing with coconut bats and plastic balls to becoming the first woman to hit a first ball six, S Sajana rises as new WPL superstar.

Sajana Sajeevan: Keralas cricket prodigy who took WPL by storm
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Mumbai Indians defeated Delhi Capitals in a last-ball thriller in the opening game of WPL 2024. (Credits- BCCI)

By

Arjun Mylvahanan

Updated: 9 March 2024 7:17 AM GMT

It was close to midnight at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru which was hosting the opening game of the second edition of the Women's Premier League (WPL).

Delhi Capitals were jubilant, with victory seemingly within their grasp facing the defending champions Mumbai Indians.

This came after the crucial wicket of MI skipper Harmanpreet Kaur fell in the penultimate delivery of the match. Five runs were needed off the last ball.

In stepped the relatively unknown Sajeevan Sajana to face the final ball against off-spinner Alice Capsey. With a slight shimmy down the track, she launched the ball into the crowd, sending them into a frenzy.

A first-ball six to secure the win for her team on her debutโ€”this was how Sajana announced herself to the cricketing world!

Despite surprising everyone else, there was one person who knew Sajeevan Sajana's capabilities wellโ€”Harmanpreet Kaur.

"Sajana has been smashing sixes throughout the practice sessions and she showed what she is capable of" stated the skipper during the post-match presentation.

Even Jemimah Rodrigues from the Delhi Capitals took to social media to appreciate Sajana's brilliance tweeting "Comes from a humble background, lost almost everything in the Kerala floods, walks in when the team requires 1 ball 5 runs and hits an effortless six! What a story and more over what a player!".

Belonging to the Kurichiya tribe in Kerala, Sajeevan Sajana faced a challenging childhood.

Until her late teens, she was seen playing with coconut bats and plastic balls. It wasn't until she turned 18 that Sajana's cricketing journey truly began to take shape. She fought her way into the domestic circuit, consistently delivering match-winning performances that propelled her to the top.

Setbacks came hard and fast, especially during the devastating 2018 Kerala floods, which nearly brought her budding career to an abrupt halt. However, fortune smiled upon her when she managed to salvage her cricket kit bag from her house. This stroke of luck allowed her to participate in the Challengers Trophy, representing the India Reds team.

Despite going unsold in the 2023 WPL auction, Sajana had a remarkable season. The Senior Women's T20 Trophy became a defining moment as she caught the eye of both selectors and IPL scouts.

She scored an impressive 134 runs in 7 innings and took 6 wickets, showcasing her prowess as an all-rounder. This performance paid off when she was picked up by the Mumbai Indians in the 2024 WPL auction.

Suffice it to say, that she has repaid the faith shown by her team with her very first ball faced in the WPL.

"Sajana is the Kieron Pollard of our women's team. She has got that role and I think she did well and credit goes to her" remarked teammate Bhatia in the post-match presser.

Since then, Sajana Sajeevan has consistently delivered crucial contributions as a finisher, with unbeaten scores of 24 from 14 and 22 from 14 against Delhi Capitals and UP Warriors, respectively.

It's no surprise that Kaur picked her as one of the three players to watch out for in the WPL leading up to the tournament. "She (Sajana) is someone who can contribute with both bat and ball," said the MI skipper.

Looking ahead, Sajana undoubtedly has her sights set on a spot in the Indian team, especially with the Women's T20 World Cup approaching in September. With Indian skipper Kaur already impressed by Sajana's skill set and her consistent contributions with both bat and ball, Sajana's ultimate dream could become a reality sooner rather than later.

She stands as an inspiring figure, not only in women's cricket but in cricket and life in general, with her unwavering display of grit, courage, determination, and perseverance.

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