Happy Birthday, Thirushkamini

The scorching sun in Chennai never bothered those guys from playing cricket, but an 8-year-old girl did. A group of 25-odd years old guys felt humiliated because they were taken on by a youngster, let me not mention the gender. Since bouncers and beamers along with pace couldn’t control her, they threw the ball at her which left her with bleeding nose for two days. What would an eight-year-old Thirush Kamini know back then?

Well, she knew the game. Better. Thanks to her sports-loving father. Representing Port Trust in Hockey, Murugesan Dickeshwashankar not only did watched cricket with her but also played and coached her.

Coming back to the injuries which never held her only helped her to hone her defensive skills, her determination and the fitness.

All those were evident years later when she, as 24-year-old went to bat nine-odd hours, faced 430-odd deliveries to score 192 against South Africa. It was an innings of utmost concentration mixed with some beautiful stroke-play to take India to 400 to mark one of the famous victories for the Indian team.

She is always a star in whatever she does. Be it studies or the game. No, cricket did not stop her (until 2004) from pursuing M.Phil, to become the nerd of the Indian side.

Coming back to that young kid who knew only cricket back then, made to the Under-16 side when she was just 10-odd. She kept wickets as well before understanding that her strength was leg-break. She became one. She outperformed many of the stars to be awarded the BCCI Junior player of the year twice. She debuted for the country when she was just 16. While with the bat she announced herself in the second match of the ODI career with a brave 60, she picked up two wickets with the ball as well. In fact, there were a few memorable performances with the ball. The one that is top of my mind was her 3 for 19 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup that changed the fate of the match completely. Chasing 240, Pakistan at one stage was cruising with 80 for 1, and things changed when she took the field to give India a thumping win by 80 runs.

It was 2013. India hosted the World Cup that year. Playing the World Cup at home, one cannot escape from nervousness, and for Thirushkamini it was her first match for India after three years, in fact, her first match in almost two years as she had to miss out almost six months due to the bed-ridden knee injury. When she was all fit, India has already moved on. To come back to the side, she needed something big and some runs to her name. 768 at an average of 68 in 13 innings spoke for themselves. She was in, opening the batting with Raut against West Indies.

She started slowly, wanted to take ball by ball, one battle at a time, played the wing girl for Raut’s romance with the ball. While both the players were dealing in singles, there were a few step-outs and textbook shots. A pretty cover-drive off Selman who tried to keep it full, a cut off Shanel and the best of all was the straight hit back 14-year-old Anisha. After Raut got out, she shifted gears and dispatched whatever that came her way. Such was the power that even a mis-hit reached the boundary. 166 minutes later, with eleven fours and a six, Thirushkamini announced her comeback in style by becoming the first-ever woman to score a ton in a World Cup match. She did not smile, but jumped, smashed the air with the bat as she acknowledged the applause from the dressing room. It was like the moment she has been waiting for like months, it was the moment she has been dreaming for a while.

When things were looking great, her blues dragged her down a bit, and her loss is somebody’s gain. Still, nobody can take away cricket from her. Days ago, she had unbeaten 243 in the TNCA women’s cricket league for Freyer Trophy.

Maybe, things slowly will get better. Maybe, she will be back soon. Till then, she is not going to stop and as she always does, will take season by season, push herself to get better and get back to the team where she belongs.

Happy Birthday, Thirushkamini, thanks for being an inspiration!