The stocky left-handed batswoman from Chennai became India's first woman to crack a century in World Cup.
Who is Thirush Kamini? In a sport and country where most women athletes remain unheralded throughout their careers, a stocky left-handed opening batsman came out all guns blazing in India's opening match of the ICC women's World Cup against the West Indies in Mumbai on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Murugesan Dickeshwashankar Thirush Kamini from Chennai created history for becoming India's first centurion in a World Cup match. The previous best was a 91 against the Netherlands by Hyderabad girl Mithali Raj in the 2005 World Cup. Mithali is India's current skipper.
At a time when Indian cricket is searching for a dependable opener, Kamini can give her male counterparts a run for their money. When she went out to open the innings in India's traditional blue colours and wearing a floppy hat, Kamini reminded of Sri Lanka's murderous batsman and ex-skipper, Sanath Jayasuriya.
The walk to the pitch, the bat-lift, the approach and then the attitude looks so very Jayasuriyaish. And Kamini made the right moves at the middle when India wanted her to score a big one and exploit the home conditions to the hilt.
Kamini scored 100 off 146 balls with the help of 11 fours and one massive six over mid-wicket and to add to the excitement of the first game of the tournament, her century was set up India for an emphatic 1-5-run win at Mumbai's historic Cricket Club of India, better known as the Brabourne Stadium.
Kamini, along with fellow opener Poonam Raut (72 off 94 balls), shared an opening partnership of 175 - which set another new record for the India women's side, the highest partnership by the side in a Women's World Cup.
Like the game itself, even if it is under the governance of the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India, women's cricketers are largely an ignored lot. Kamini's historic innings didn't get the response it deserved from either the media or the BCCI bosses or the sports ministry. Most women play the game for the love of it. Kamini is no different.
Like most kids, Kamini's initiation to cricket was through her father. She held a cricket bat when she was nine and soon after was playing with the boys. Since the boys wanted to have all the fun, Kamini kept wickets. By 2002, Kamini started bowling leg-spins. Her pocket-size helped her all the way to juggle with the ball.
Kamini, who made her debut in 2006 Asia Cup at the age of 16, is making a comeback to the India side after a gap of more than two years. She has been a consistent performer since her earlier days and was awarded the Best Junior Women's Cricketer in 2007-08 and Best Senior Women's Cricketer for 2009-10 by the BCCI.
In 22 ODIs so far, Kamini has scored 382 runs at an average of 22.47. She has batted in all positions, but her knock on Thursday will probably cement her position as an opener. The matches against stronger opponents will test her skills to negotiate the new ball. A good start is only half the job done.
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