Balangir girl among probables for Indian cricket team - Madhuri Mehta will become first Odia woman to play for India if she makes it to the final 15

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By SUDEEP KUMAR GURU
  • Published 16.01.12
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Balangir, Jan. 15: Madhuri Mehta, a 20-year-old cricketer from the state, has made it to the list of probables for the Indian women’s cricket team. Cricket lovers are praying that she makes it to the final 15 line-up and becomes the first-ever Odia girl to play for the Indian team.

The batswoman is thrilled to have made it this far and is working hard to give Odisha its much-awaited moment.

In 2010, wicket-keeper Kadambini Mohakud from Odisha had made it to the list of 30 probables for the main team, but missed out in the final round by a whisker. Madhuri aims to make it to the national team for the upcoming West Indies tour. Her name featured in the list of the 20 probable players, which was announced by BCCI yesterday.

Hailing from Balangir, Madhuri reminisces about her first tryst with cricket.

“Though members of my family have played for the state, I didn’t know even the basics of the game till a few years ago. It was only in 2007 when women cricketers started playing from our district and even represented the state that I got passionate about cricket,” said the youngster, who has performed well consistently to find a place in the East Zone team.

Last year, she was selected to train at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

Madhuri’s father Pradeep Mehta remains one of the better players from the town. He played as an all-rounder in the Ranji Trophy in the 80s. Her uncle Binod was a gifted left arm spinner while her other uncles, Santosh and Sanjaya, have also contributed a lot to cricket in Balangir.

“My father is my inspiration. He guided me to become a cricketer. I also had the backing of the other family members who supported me even though in my town cricket is still not considered a game that a girl should play. I am happy that I have been named in the probables list for the team’s West Indies tour. I will not let down the expectation of my family and those who have helped and supported me. I will try hard to make it to the final list,” said the talented opener and excellent fielder.

Madhuri’s mother Ahuti Mishra, a teacher, said she was very happy to see her daughter carving her niche in cricket.

“For the last few years, only cricket has been discussed at our home. Sheer dedication and passion for the game has helped her reach this far. Her father is her friend, philosopher and guide,” she said.

Madhuri’s coach Arun Naik said he was confident that she would make it to the final list and play for the country. “She is a gifted player who can perform under any condition. She is technically sound and has consistently performed well in several tournaments. She is also a fine fielder,” Naik said.

Odisha Cricket Association secretary Ashirbad Behera also extended his wishes to Madhuri.

“She is a fine player and we wish her all the best for her final selection,” he said. Madhuri will attend the selection camp for the final 15 for the West Indies tour in the first week of February at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.