Minnu Mani becomes the first woman cricketer from Kerala to play for India, her town comes together to broadcast the match on YouTube

On the field, 24-year-old Minnu received the cap from the hands of her favorite player Smriti Mandhana. Minnu was one of the two debutants for the Indian national team – the other was Bareddy Anusha. After India chose to field, the off-spinning allrounder came out to bowl, wearing the cap, already during the powerplay.

Bangladesh opener Shamima Sultana hit Minna for a six and then a four in the second and third innings of the fifth over. Unperturbed, she still let the next ball, seemingly even slower than the previous two, and induced a false hit off the right-hander. Sultana hit a slog-sweep straight to Jemima Rodriguez at deep square leg. A wicket in the first match made the day even sweeter for Minnu and everyone present at her Mananthavadi home as a proud Mani and his wife Vasantha opened the sweet box.

It is difficult to explain our joy. She worked hard all these years to play for India and then got a wicket in the first match. What more could we ask for? The whole town was ecstatic, Mani said.

Minnoo could have got another wicket in the second over but Pooja Vastrakar failed to get hold of short square leg after Sobhana Mostari mistimed a slog sweep. She finished the game with a respectable 3-0-21-1 as India restricted Bangladesh to 114/5 and then chased down the target in 16.2 overs for a seven-wicket victory.

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur was impressed with the way Minna with a bat. She just needs a bit more practice at a higher level so that the nervousness and fear goes away and she can be a good all-rounder for India in all formats. I am very happy that she has started her India career on a good note, Sharma said.

Minnu’s parents are yet to see her play live on the court. Minnu’s biggest wish right now is to take us abroad for a game. She said she will prepare passports for us. If she continues to play for India, hopefully one day we can make such a trip, Mani said.

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