Titas ready to fill Jhulan-sized hole

Ranadeep Sadhu clearly remembers her daughter Titas Sadhu’s initiation to cricket. A young Titas would spend her time reading the manual scoring sheets near the manual scoreboard in club level matches at the Rajendra Smirti Sangh Stadium owned by her family at Chinsurah, which is 40 km north of Kolkata. On Sunday, 18-year-old Titas wrote her name in golden letters as the pacer returned with figures of 4-0-6-2 to be adjudged player of the match in the final of the Under-19 Women’s World Cup. In the historic victory, it was Titas early wickets that helped India get early initiative in the final at Potchefstroom, South Africa.

“Since our family had built the stadium and academy in the memory of the family elder Rajendra Sadhu, Titas always spent her time at the ground. When the club matches happened, she would take her pencil and paper and would sit with the scorers studying the manual scoring sheets with utmost interest.”

“That’s how her first tryst with cricket happened. To see her and the Indian team script history and win the inaugural U-19 World Cup Trophy is special for all of us,” Sadhu Sr told The Indian Express from Kolkata.

With her father being a state level athlete, a young Titas would also show keen interest in athletics and trained under her father’s coach Pinaki Karmakar. Apart from being part of the school’s sprint team, Titas was also playing football at the academy. Titas’s first lesson in cricket happened by chance thanks to her father. “She trained for athletics and was very fit and agile at a very young age.

She would also play football at the academy and accompanied my father Ahindra Kumar Sadhu to the academy daily. It was after 2-3 years that once during a holiday, I asked her to bowl the tennis ball targeting the goal posts from a distance. She did that with ease and that’s when I decided to train her as a fast bowler,” remembers Sadhu senior.

The youngster was selected in the Bengal U-19 probables during the 2019-2020 season but had to miss playing as she had to appear for her tenth standard exams. The following year, as a 16-year-old, she made her senior debut for the Bengal T20 Women’s team under captain Rumeli Dhar.

The teenager went wicketless in her first two matches and was subsequently dropped. “As a youngster, she had a natural outswing when she started playing cricket. I along with coach Priyankar Mukherjee worked on her inswing and adjusted her wrist position along with other things. She would have played for the Bengal U-19 team in the 2019-2020 season but she did not want to miss her exams. The following year, she was a net bowler for the Bengal senior T20team and coach Shib Sankar Paul was impressed by her bowling and asked her to play some practice matches. Even though her maiden senior season did not go well, she took confidence from travelling with the likes of Jhulan Goswami and Rumeli Dhar,” said Sadhu Sr.

Last year, the youngster took seven wickets in five matches for Bengal in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy. Prior to the final on Sunday, Titas had claimed four wickets in the World Cup before claiming two wickets in the final. She first removed Liberty Heap in the first over of the innings before removing Serene Smale with an inswinger in her fourth over. “Her go-to ball is the inswinging ball and she knows when to use it. She used the bounce to get the wicket of Heap. Whenever she talks with us, she tells us that she could not share the new ball with Jhulan di. Once she got the man of the match award from Jhulan after being unbeaten on 94 in a club match. I am sure Jhulan will be proud of her today also,” said Sadhu Sr.

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