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Nishi Narayanan in Chennai
February 20, 2007
Thirush Kamini is a commerce student at the Church Park school near Thousand Lights mosque in Chennai. She is a good student, a very good one, she avers, and has no problem coping with the pressure of balancing studies with, get this, playing international cricket.
Part of India's squad for the quadrangular tournament, Kamini, 16, is a legbreak bowler who debuted for India at the Asia Cup last December and won the player-of-the-tournament award for her eight wickets at 10.87 apiece. She has certainly got the support of her captain, Mithali Raj, who was sure that in Kamini India had a star-in-the-making.
At nets, on the eve of India's opening match against England, she bowled with a round-arm action and tried to the flight the ball pitching it right up to the crease. She had tripped over a practice ball the day before but, typically, dismissed it as nothing serious. Kamini began playing cricket with her father when she was nine years old but soon moved to the Sports and Development Authority of Tamil Nadu for some professional coaching. Playing with boys, for a while, she kept wickets. But by 2002, Kamini had decided that leg spin was the way to go. Though Shane Warne does not feature among her cricketing heroes - she likes Sachin Tendulkar and Karen Rolton - she will hope to get some of his magic when she comes in to bowl at Charlotte Edwards, Claire Taylor, Ebony-Rainford Brent and the other England batsmen.
India's net session went on for three hours with all members of the squad going through the batting and fielding drills before heading off to the swimming pool. England, on the other hand, had a light session late afternoon resting five players from the squad. Edwards, the England captain, said that the side had had two rigorous matches against India A and India B in the last two days so the nets session had been optional. A dilemma that the captain is facing is who should keep wickets in the game against India. Along with Jane Smit, the regular keeper, England have brought Sarah Taylor, a 17-year old wicketkeeper, who has averaged 50.50 in the five matches she has played for England.
Asked which team will be the toughest opposition, Edwards said that India, being at home, and Australia, in their current form, are the favourites. "Women's cricket is really looking good today. All the top four teams are very strong and on a day each can beat the other."
Australia play New Zealand on February 21 at the ITT Chemplast stadium while India take on England at Chepauk.
Nishi Narayanan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo
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