From playing with coconut petiole to starring for Mumbai Indians in WPL know who is Sajana Sajeevan

The journey of an athlete is often portrayed as a dramatic rise to the spotlight—a tale of triumph that shines through a single headline-grabbing performance. For Sajana Sajeevan, the limelight came in a flash as her six soared over the boundary during a pivotal match. However, the years of exertion leading up to those few seconds often remain in the shadows, untold.

Sajana, the daughter of an autorickshaw driver named Sajeevan, belongs to the modest village of Mananthavady in Kerala’s enchanting Wayanad. A political science graduate, her heart has always resonated with the rhythm of cricket, beating in time with the thud of a ball against bat. Funds, or the lack thereof, stood between her and her dreams, yet family support never wavered.

“Our income was not ample to fully support her sporting endeavors and the travel it required. Nevertheless, her fervor for cricket was unmistakable; she would play in the nearby paddy field with a coconut petiole, accompanied by friends and relatives,” Sajeevan shared with PTI, recalling the foundations of his daughter’s sporting spirit.

An encounter with cricketing icon Gautam Gambhir, who presented her with an autographed bat, not only spurred Sajana but also illuminated the passion she harbored within her to her family. Elsamma Baby, the local school’s Physical Education teacher, also recognized Sajana’s potential and echoed the advice to nurture it.

Adversities, such as losing her home to the devastating Kerala floods, failed to dampen Sajana’s resolve or dilute her passion for cricket. An online feature by Mumbai Indians brought to light her resilience. “I had no funds for travel. My initial earnings were a modest daily allowance when I played for the district. Those numbers grew over time, from 150 to 900 Rs per day. This filled me with joy, particularly knowing it made my parents happy,” Sajana reflected.

Fortune’s wheel turned, and soon she was not only a part of the state’s under-19 team, but also wearing the captain’s armband. An India A call-up followed, bolstering her cricketing credentials further. However, a cloud of disappointment hung over her when she was initially overlooked in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction.

Her father recounts the auction’s anxious day, “Sajana avoided watching it, riddled with nerves. Failure to secure a bid left her disheartened.” But K Rajagopal, her coach, was a beacon of support, offering words of wisdom and encouragement to remain focused on the sport. Sajana did just that, staying dedicated through periods marked by floods and the bleak days of the COVID pandemic.

When the second season of WPL rolled around, the Mumbai Indians—a global sporting giant—saw her potential and brought her into their fold. The memory of Sajana receiving the news is fondly retold by her father, “She was ecstatic. She reached out to her friends and mentors to express gratitude, overwhelmed by the opportunity from such a prestigious team.”

Sajana’s prowess came to the fore in a magnificent six against Alice Capsey, setting the stage for Mumbai Indians’ win. Her teammate Yastika Bhatia likened her to the powerhouse Kieron Pollard of MI’s men’s team, acknowledging her as one to watch in the league, a sentiment also shared by DC captain Harmanpreet Kaur.

Yet, amid the victories and accolades, Sajana harbors a deeper aspiration—to don the Indian cricket team’s jersey. With optimism, her father concludes, “She’s set her sights on an Indian cap, much like Minnu Mani. We’re hopeful that her dreams will take flight.” In the narrative of Sajana Sajeevan’s journey, her determination and the unwavering support around her merge to form the backbone of an inspiring ascent in the world of cricket.

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