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Indian girl in Aussie beaters
- England women get there before men, Isa Guha hopes to play at Eden in winter

London, Aug. 28: Isa Guha, the 20-year-old Indian girl who has now established herself as a key member of the England women’s cricket team, was today celebrating her side’s series victory against a tough Australian side, the first in 42 years.

Speaking today from a noisy team bus making its way to Taunton, Somerset, she said: “I feel great ' to tell you the truth, it’s not sunk in yet.”

And now Isa is looking forward to playing this winter against India at Eden Gardens in Calcutta.

This summer it’s not only “Freddie” Flintoff and the England men who are giving the Aussies a hard time. The England women have also beaten Australia in their own two Test “Ashes” series.

After the first Test was drawn, England women won the second, at Worcester, yesterday by six wickets.

Batting first, Australia scored 131, with Isa, one of England three fast bowlers, returning figures of 13 overs, three maidens, one wicket for 32 runs.

In England’s first innings of 289, Katherine Brunt and Isa, batting at number 10 and 11 respectively, put on a partnership of 85, with the former scoring 52 and the latter 31 not out.

Australia did much better in the second innings, getting 232, with Isa returning figures of 18 overs, four maidens, 52 runs, one wicket.

After early scares and losing four wickets, England got the required 75 runs. The last England series win against Australia was in 1963, and the previous occasion when Australia lost a Test against England was in 1984 at Adelaide.

“The atmosphere in the dressing room last night was crazy,” said Isa. “Everyone was in high spirits. All the hard work has paid off.”

The season is not over yet. In the one-dayers against Australia, the visitors are two-one up, with two games to go.

Asked whether she would like to bat higher up the order, Isa was diplomatic: “It’s quite hard at number 11 since you have only one wicket to play with.”

Isa, who was born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on May 21, 1985, got into the England side at the age of 17 in 2002 after shining for her club, Reading Ridgeway, in the premier division, and for the U-19 England side.

This March she went to South Africa with England for the Women’s World Cup.

She is reasonably confident of being picked for the England team which will leave for Sri Lanka on November 10 for a couple of games, and then arrive in Delhi on November 15 for a tour which will conclude in Calcutta on December 12.

Although the Indian authorities have been slow to confirm the itinerary, it is assumed one of the five one-day matches will be at Eden Gardens.

“It is my dream to play in my home country,” said Isa, who last visited India four years ago when she made a trip to Goa.

In January 2006, she hopes to resume her studies at University College, London, where she is half way through a degree course in a difficult subject ' biochemistry. Her tutors have been understanding and given her time off for “interrupted” study while she plays for England.

Isa’s father, Barun Guha, a businessman, came to England in 1965 from Calcutta, and returned home briefly in 1974 to get married to Roma, a schoolteacher.

In the last few years, their lives have revolved around their daughter’s cricket. Isa’s mother gave up her work so she could drive her daughter to nets. She has now helped set up a women’s support group called “Blue Lions”, which raises funds for the England side.

Her husband has produced 5,000 blue wristbands which supporters wear. They are booking their flights to India so that they will be with Isa this winter.

Barun is writing to relatives and friends in Calcutta so that there “will be 1,000 people” from his “para” when Isa takes the field at Eden Gardens.

“I support England,” said Barun.

Like a good Bengali mother, Roma said: “I support Isa.”

Barun would very much like to draw up the England batting order. “Isa is good enough to bat at six or even five,” he declared. “For her club, she bats at three or four.”

Barun is a student of form. “The Indian women have a good side so it will be a tough fight,” he predicted.

Next summer the Indian women are due to tour England.

“I will cook them dinner,” promised Roma.

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