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EXCLUSIVE: WPL 2024: “Mumbai Is Like A Family, I Am Very Happy And Thankful To MI” – Keerthana Balakrishnan

Keerthana Balakrishnan, the leg spinner from Tamilnadu believes that in cricket not every day will go according to one’s expectations. Someday things wouldn’t fall according to her plan and on some other day, she will become the only one from Tamilnadu to be bought on auction by Mumbai Indians. She also believes that the extra-ordinary happens when you are expecting the less and she needs to grab that opportunity with both hands.

That opportunity came when she was handed her debut cap before the inaugural match of the WPL season 2 at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium against Delhi Capitals. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, brought her into the attack in the 8th over and she was ready to face to bowl against Meg Lanning and Alice Capsey. Lanning took a couple from the first ball and then hit her through extra cover.

If Matthew’s misfielding rather inexplicably caused her 4 runs, Lanning sent another short ball from Keerthana Balakrishnan through backward point. A classing Meg Lanning shot. She went from 13 in her first and only over of the match. Keerthana had a much better figure in her next against Gujrat Giants when she went for 19 runs in her 3 overs with an economy rate of 6.33 while condemning only two boundaries of her bowling.

Keerthana Balakrishnan’s journey started when she was only 9 years old. Belonging to a humble background where her father worked hard to make both ends meet, her family supported her from the very beginning Speaking about her earlier days she uttered how she got interested in cricket.

“My mom, my dad, my whole family, my relatives, everyone supported me. They are very proud that I’m playing cricket. My father used to take me to the ground with my brother just to do some exercise involving some physical activities like running and playing fun activities. My brother used to play cricket so by seeing him I just started my cricket journey,” Keerthana Balakrishnan shared in an Exclusive interview with Women’s CricInsight.

Keerthana Balakrishnan went on to represent the U-16 side at the tender age of 10. And though a hiatus forced her out of the side for three years, she was once again found in the under-19 side at the age of 13. Spin bowling came naturally to her and from the beginning, she wanted to be a spin bowling allrounder. She started her training with Peter Fernandes, who played a crucial role in shaping her fundamentals and tuning her techniques.

ALSO READ: WPL 2024: Mumbai Indians (MI) – SWOT Analysis


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“I was very raw and I went to him. So he made me into a professional cricketer, taught me all those techniques like batting, balling and everything. So after that, then I went on to play state regularly. I went out to represent India Blue, in under 19 Challenges Trophe, in the year 2018-19. Then the same year I represented India Green in the Senior Women Challenges Trophy and then the next year I represented India Red in the Under 23 T-20 Challenge Trophy. At that time, I left the Red side too,” she again shared.

Then COVID, I joined T.S Mukund Sir, he taught me a lot of variations, he included those little changes in me, the ball speed, top spinners, and googlies, which came in very handy during the Mumbai Indians selection trials and moving up to this level, it played a very crucial role. So, yeah, for the last couple of years, I’ve been representing Indian women’s senior one-day trophies.

Talking about her memorable incidents she was quick to point her 5-fer which she took against Saurashtra in the Senior One Day Trophy. And apart from all their victory against Maharashtra defending a low total was very special for her. Along with her U-16 and U-19 Centuries, leading a side came naturally to her. Apart from her fifers and a couple of hundreds in the age group cricket captaincy was another thing that stood up for her.

“I always enjoyed captaincy. I have always seen it as a sense of responsibility because I have let my stateside also. So I really enjoy captaincy. You know, it makes me, you know, be much more involved in the game. You analysed the game much better as well as made me improve my cricketing knowledge, analysing different match scenarios and acting upon that. So it will only build you as a cricketer,” Keerthana Balakrishnan expressed.

The call for the selection trial for Mumbai Indians came when she was in the residential camp for the  U-23 T-20 Tournament for her stateside. A sudden phone call that asked her to join the selection trail prompted her to ask the association for permission. In front of the Mumbai Indian coaches like Kiran More, Jhulan Goswami, Charlotte Edwards, and Devaika Palshikar, she showed her skill. The open net selection trial lasted for days and Keerthana Balakrishnan had no expectations that she would be picked from the auction amidst many other leg spinners.

She stated, “I had very bare minimum expectations. Like everyone wanted to be a part of the WPL. Since I did well, I know I did well in the Mumbai Indians section trial, so I just had a glimmer of hope just not something big.”


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The domestic season has treated Keerthana Balakrishnan well on either side of that life-changing auction happened. She picked 12 wickets in 7 matches in the Senior T-20 trophies,  followed by another  13 wickets in the U-23 T20 Tournaments. 14 wickets in 6 innings for the Senior One Day Tournament,  fighting against the dragons proved she is ready to take the giants head-on.

And then the auction happened where she was picked by Mumbai Indians. She was picked from the action along with Sajana, Fatima and Amandeep. And though things well against her expectations, getting the opportunity in an esteemed franchise like MI made her more grateful as well as determined towards the next stage of life.

ALSO READ: WPL 2024: ‘Kaur Enjoys Playing Under Pressure’ – Nat Sciver-Brunt

“Mumbai is like a family. I am very happy and thankful to MI. I think, getting the opportunity to become part of the franchise changed my perspective, towards the game. I am approaching the game with much more confidence. I don’t know, I didn’t expect these things will happen, but that’s how it happened. When you go to that next level, you want to do well or you want to establish yourself in a better way, you want to be very authoritative when you go to do that level,” Keerthana Balakrishnan stated.

And to add to her newfound perspective the whole Mumbai India camp atmosphere allowed her to soak up the moment with its positive attitude, infusing energy and purpose even in the newcomers. And she is very much eager to learn from these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

“It’s very energetic and very purposeful. Moving on to the WPL season, Yeah, if at all I get a chance to play. I really want to pick wickets for my team and you know, ultimately my goal is to win the championship from my side. Playing along with players like Amelia Kerr, and Harmanpreet Kaur and getting every little imput from them has improved her as a player as a player. I’m really getting so many ideas on how to go about it here and those are like small inputs. Everyone is really helpful and they come up to me and say when things go wrong, or they tell me what can be done in a better way. So I’m learning a lot of things. I love to hear their perspective or love to hear their input or whatever they have to give me,” Keerthana Balakrishnan explained.

Working under the supervision of coaches like Edwards, Jhulan Goswami and Devieka Palsikaar in much more depth compared form the domestic side helped her a lot too, going into her debut in the opening match.


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“Devieka Ma’am was our coach in one of the U-19 sides. So again, coming back here, working with her and you know working with Jhulu di, is much more in-depth, really feels good and I’m getting to know them much better. You know those inputs and all those things. They’re helping me a lot. Charlotte is one of the most positive person I’ve ever met. Being the coach, you know she holds the entire team together. And I think the energy is positive. She is very sweet and always there for us. And rather than being a hard taskmaster, everyone is up the help. They have never made me feel that I’ve just added to the team or anything like that. They made me feel a part of the family where you know we enjoy each other’s success. You know we play together and there are so many positive things. They make us feel that one is belong to the team and we are included which is very helpful in a way,” she further added.

Boosted by the positive environment that the Mumbai Indian side has to offer, Keerthana has some personal dreams of getting Smriti Mandhana’s wicket. She would also love to see a tussle between both of them.

I would like to get a wicket of Smriti  Mandhana. She is my favourite. It’s not like I don’t want other wickets but they all are my favourite players, I love watching them. So it’s like they’re all my favourite players, so you know if you get them it’s such a great joy. It feels good to take the wicket of legends and pro cricketers,” Keerthana Balakrishnan again stated.

As one who has been through a struggle and failure, Keerthana Balakrishnan knows that if things do not happen as expected, she needs to move on with that. And sports is about accepting both failure and success gracefully.

“That’s what I feel, that is the spirit of sports. Sports is all about, you know, some you win, some you lose every time If you want to keep winning, then there is no learning or there is no growth. Only those failures, you know that’s where the growth happens. So if you can take the lessons from the mistakes which you have made and you know, you just keep forward without overthinking much. You know, because it just it happens. And some days when you are expecting less brilliant things happen. You know, anyway, tomorrow is a new opportunity. It’s a new day. You gonna get another opportunity on the way which you need to grab,” Keerthana Balakrishnan shared.

Keerthana Balakrishnan loves to meet friends, listen to music and talk about life when things are not going too well.

“I mean, I just like roam or something like that, we just catch up in someone’s house. We just talk. You know that’s always been my favourite because, you know, meeting my friends, spending my day with them or music beaches, they’re my favourite. In recent times you know with age and maturity you just learned that things happen in life and you can’t expect to have success all the time. No human can be with just success. So you just have to accept and move on,” Keerthana Balakrishnan concluded.

On behalf of Women’s CricInsight, we wish Keerthana Balakrishnan all the best for the upcoming season!

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