Monica Murmu at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Two half-centuries and a lot of toil in a recently concluded inter-zonal U-19 tournament in Ranchi has shifted the focus back on city-based all-rounder Monica Murmu.
Eighteen-year-old Monica, who hails from Karandih on the outskirts of Jamshedpur, was on Tuesday named in the east zone squad that will compete in the U-19 inter-state one-day tournament scheduled in Vijayawada from March 20-26.
Monica — the lone selection in the squad from the state — will leave for Ranchi on Thursday to take part in a short practice session before leaving for Andhra Pradesh with the east zone squad.
The dreamy teen, youngest among her three sisters and a huge fan of Team India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and middle-order batsman Suresh Raina, is a serious cricketer, who like others, wants to make it to the national circuit some day.
“I love to watch these cricketers (Raina and Dhoni) in action. They are cool, calm and collected even in tense situations during a match. This is what appeals to me,” Monica, who bats right-handed, said.
She added that she was delighted to have found a slot in the east zone team and would give it her all. “Well it is a big break for me. I want to give it my best. I am positive and confident about the upcoming tournament,” the teen told The Telegraph.
Monica, who leads the state U-19 women’s team, said her 65 against Tripura and 51 versus Assam in the Ranchi tournament was instrumental in tilting the scales of east zone selection in her favour.
“They were confident knocks. I was the captain and had a responsibility to do well getting in at number 4. I think those half-centuries helped my case a lot,” Monica, a first year commerce student of Jamshedpur Women's College, said.
Prodded, she added that she began playing cricket in 2007 and has since then donned state colours for various tournaments conducted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). She was also a part of the Jharkhand team in the recently concluded women’s inter-state T-20 tournament that was held in Jamshedpur.
The state’s T20 coach Umesh Sethi too was all praises for Monica calling her a good all-rounder.
“Monica is a solid all-round cricketer. She bowls medium pace but what I like about her is her fielding. She is an excellent cover fielder,” said Sethi said.
According to the list released, Assam’s Ritu Dhurb will lead the east zone women’s outfit.
Apart from Monica and Ritu, the others who have found a place in the squad include the names of Anita Lodhi, Archana Dutta, Rekha Rani Bora (all Assam), Swagathika Rath, Pragyan Mohanty, Suhreebivya Darshini, Harapriya Ojha (all Odisha), Mouchuti Debnath, Rizu Shaha, Sweety Singh (Tripura), Beauty Mondol, Saika Ishquiya and Anita Naskar (all Bengal).
Jharkhand’s Sanjay Pandey and Sunil Singh have been appointed coach and manager respectively for the squad with Bengal’s Priyanka Mandal taking over as trainer. Odisha's Sheetal Mohanty will be the physio for the squad.