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WPL 2023 : Reema Malhotra calls Saika Ishaque, Shreyanka Patil as ‘finds of the tournament’

Mumbai : The Women’s Premier League (WPL) has largely been perceived as a golden chance for talented players in the Indian domestic circuit to showcase their skills and make their respective teams win in front of a worldwide audience, while presenting their cases for a national call-up.

Till now Mumbai Indians left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque and Royal Challengers Bangalore all-rounder Shreyanka Patil have emerged as standout players from the uncapped Indian cricketers in the tournament, with former India cricketer Reema Malhotra calling the duo as the ‘finds of the tournament’.

Saika, a gutsy, confident spinner plying her trade for Bengal in domestic cricket, is currently leading the wicket-taking charts in WPL through her brilliant spells. In the opening match against Gujarat Giants, she took 4/11, followed by taking 2/26 and 3/13 against Bangalore and Delhi Capitals respectively.

From her nine wickets in the competition, seven have through either being bowled or lbw. “On seeing her journey in cricket, I feel she’s a talent who was ignored by selectors because there was a season in 2014-15, where she played really good cricket and I felt she could be picked for the Indian team as I was also playing cricket that time.

But she wasn’t picked, and was dropped. But from the time she has come back after being dropped, she hasn’t looked back at all. She’s a bowler who wants to bowl in every situation,” said Reema while replying to a query from IANS in a virtual interaction organised by Viacom18.

Reema, a WPL expert on Sports18 and JioCinema, also highlighted how mixing confidence with skill sets, coupled with backing from legendary Jhulan Goswami, the bowling coach and mentor of Mumbai, is helping the 27-year old Saika thrive in the tournament and feels the elusive India call-up will come really soon.

“When I asked her last night about her strength, she didn’t say that my stock ball or arm ball is my strength. Her reply was ‘when I have the ball in my hand, it automatically becomes my strength as bowling is my strength and I say to the captain to give me the ball as I know how to stop runs’.

When a bowler or batter has this much confidence, Saika has now combined skill with that confidence. She’s now being backed by Jhulan Goswami, and with the stage being set, she’s now shown that she’s made for a big platform.

In a very short time from now, you will get to see Saika playing for the Indian team,” said Reema. On the other hand, in a star-studded Bangalore line-up, the 20-year old Shreyanka has impressed in her early outings.

Against Mumbai, Shreyanka hit a boundary off the first ball she faced after coming at number seven. She hit two delightful boundaries off Ishaque in her cameo of 23 off 15 balls, though she was expensive with the ball.

“I have covered many games of Karnataka and played against Shreyanka too. I rate Shreyanka Patil as one of the best fielders in the Karnataka team after Veda (Krishnamurthy).

She’s a true all-rounder who can give you runs in the lower-order. She can also improvise her shots like sweep, reverse sweep, and can even play the sweep in three-four different ways,” the former India player said.

Against Gujarat, Shreyanka picked two wickets, including of a blazing Sophia Dunkley. She then scored a brisk four-ball 11 not out in the last over to bring Bangalore’s losing margin to 11 runs, impressing everyone with her temperament, confidence and fearlessness.

Reema calls Shreyanka as a genuine all-rounder and sees similarities of her skills with the well-established Deepti Sharma. “If you want to build a middle-order who can play well against spin, then Shreyanka Patil fits well.

Her bowling is her main forte and it’s been so long after Deepti Sharma that I am seeing a genuine all-rounder, who is Shreyanka Patil. She initially began as a medium-pacer, and tried her hands in leg-spin, wicketkeeping.

It’s good for us that she’s bowling off-spin. Her bowling action is a complete action; and can impart revolutions too,” said Reema. Reema also recounted an instance from the tournament which showed her that Shreyanka is a very thinking cricketer, when she took Sophia’s wicket in the Bangalore-Gujarat clash.

“There, she had bowled all deliveries coming from round the wicket. But on the ball where she got Dunkley’s wicket, she bowled from over the wicket.

It means that we have a sharp-minded cricketer who always thinks one step ahead as a bowler while facing a batter. So, for me, Saika and Shreyanka are the finds of the tournament,” she concluded.



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