Sajana hopes WPL break will help her realise dream of playing for India

Sajana is a middle-order batter and an off-spinner. Photo: Special Arrangement

The year that is coming to a close saw the emergence of Minnu Mani as a bright star among Kerala's women cricketers. The tribal girl from Edappadi near Mananthavady in Wayanad became the first from the state to be picked up in the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) auction in February. 

Later, in July, the 24-year-old became the first Keralite to feature in a Twenty20 International. Minnu was also part of the Indian team which bagged gold in the Hangzhou Asian Games and was named captain of the India 'A' team in the recent three-match T20 series against England 'A'. 

Amid all this, senior Kerala all-rounder S Sajana was pushed to the background. The 28-year-old, who also hails from Mananthavady, was back in the news as defending champions Mumbai Indians bought her for Rs 15 lakh in the WPL mini-auction held in Mumbai on Saturday.

"Last time I followed the WPL auction and it was big disappointment when there were no takers for me. So this time around I wasn't keeping track. To be frank I wasn't sure whether I will get the nod as the competition is intense," a relieved Sajana told Onmanorama over the phone.

Sajana drives one through the off-side. Photo: Special Arrangement

Sajana hopes the big break is the first step towards her dream of donning national colours. "I was the only Kerala player to attend selection trials of all five franchises. I had attended the trials twice with Mumbai Indians -- once before the start of the domestic season and then ahead of the auction. The trials under Juhulan di (Mumbai Indians mentor and bowling coach Jhulan Goswami) had gone well. My aim is to make use of the break and realise my ultimate goal of playing for the country."

She was the lone Kerala player to get the nod in the auction as her teammate Drishya I V went unsold. "I expected Drishya to be picked up as she had performed really well in the trials with UP Warriorz," said Sajana who is a middle-order batter and an off-spinner.

She is hopeful that good performances in the WPL will get noticed. "Unlike most of the domestic events, the WPL is popular plus there is live telecast. Sometimes the selectors won't be able to judge a player by just following the scorecard. The WPL will test one's character."

Sajana with her parents
Sajana with her parents. Photo: Special Arrangement

Sajana comes from a humble background as her father Sajeevan G is an autorickshaw driver while her mother Sarada Sajeevan is a municipal council member. She picked up the sport while studying at Mananthavady Government Vocational Higher Secondary School under the watchful eyes of physical education teacher Elsamma Baby. There has been no looking back as she climbed the ladder and went on to captain Kerala and South Zone besides making it to the India 'A' team.

Despite being a seasoned player, Sajana admits that at times pressure does strange things. "There are times when you feel the pressure. On occasions you don't know what to do. I am slowly learning to tackle this issue. I am sure the stint with Mumbai Indians will make me a better player as Jhulan di and captain Harmanpreet Kaur have a wealth of knowledge," added Sajana who holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.

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