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Women's Cricket

WPL: Meet Saika Ishaque - the purple cap holder from Mumbai Indians

Saika Ishaque became the first bowler to wear the purple cap in Women's Premier League (WPL).

Saika Ishaque Mumbai Indians WPL

Saika Ishaque (Screengrab/JioCinema)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 6 March 2023 4:46 PM GMT

"Bowler hoon, wicket lene aayi hoon (I am a bowler, and I have am obviously here to take wickets)," quipped Mumbai Indians' left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque on Monday during her mid-innings chat with the broadcasters in the Women's Premier League.

She was addressing a question which asked her if she had expected to come into the WPL and pocket a whopping six wickets in just two matches. The answer instantly made a fan favourite among netizens.

The first-ever recipient of purple cap in WPL, Saika Ishaque was recruited by the Mumbai Indians for her base price of INR. 10 lakh very late in the player auction last month.

When experienced campaigners like Ekta Bisht and Anuja Patil failed to find bidders in the auction, what did Mumbai Indians see in Ishaque was a question fans had for long. The West Bengal lass has answered all of that and more in just two matches.

While she came into the attack after the fall of early wickets during MI's WPL opener against Gujarat Giants, she had a rampaging Sophie Devine and Smriti Mandhana to deal with today at the Brabourne stadium against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Ishaque was hit to the third-man boundary off the very first delivery she bowled against the RCB by Sophie Devine. What followed was an rather interesting battle.

In the four balls that followed, Ishaque pulled out of her delivery stride twice trying to read what Devine was up to. The White Ferns captain let out a wry smile on both occasions.

For the final delivery of that over, Ishaque decided to go around the wicket. Smriti Mandhana at the non-strikers end was asked to move to the other side of the stumps. Standing at the top of her run-up, the spinner had a change of minds. She commanded the RCB skipper back to her original position and went to bowling over the wicket. Devine knocked it down the ground for a single. END OF OVER.

After being hit for a boundary off the first delivery, Saika Ishaque not only managed to tie down a batter of Sophie Devine's character but made her second guess.

When the bowler returned an over later, Devine was still on strike. The result? Yet again a first ball boundary as Ishaque dropped it short and wide.

But, she soon struck back.

The 27-year-old followed the boundary up with a loopy delivery on middle and leg, Devine sensed an opportunity. The batter brought out a slog sweep but did not account for the drop in pace. The ball, despite a strong connection, went straight into the hands of the fielder at deep mid-wicket.

Saika Ishaque let out a huge roar. She had just outsmarted one of most experienced batters in world cricket.

A loopy, flighted delivery which dipped and then drifted in brought Ishaque the wicket of the talented Disha Kasat just a ball later.

Saika Ishaque has toiled in the domestic circuit for long. She has represented Bengal across all the age groups. She was also a part of the Trailblazers in the erstwhile Women's T20 Challenge. But, she never succeeded in moving up the ladder.

In fact, she even contemplated quitting the sport at some point but found the much needed encouragement from former India cricketer Mithu Mukherjee.

Ishaque then went on to overhaul her bowling action in 2021, as per a report in Sportstar.

Her wickets in the WPL now read - Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Manasi Joshi, Monica Patel, Sophie Devine, and Disha Kasat.

With the top Indian spinners like Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad struggling off late, a consistent showing in the next few matches could well land Saika Ishaque in the blue jersey.

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