WPL 2024: Asha Sobhana – WPL’s First Ever Indian Bowler Who Claimed A Fifer – Here Is All You Need To Know

Asha S, the consistent performer. [Image: Getty] Senior Women’s One Day Trophy 2024
Asha S, the consistent performer. [Image: Getty]

The second game of the Women’s Premier League 2024 (WPL 2024) season, was a bang-on bowling spectacle. Finesse’s bowling performance from RCB against UP Warriorz, won them their first game of the season, starting their tour on a different note in comparison to the previous season. What caught the attention of the global cricketing world, is the WPL’s first-ever fifer bowling performance this season by a 32-year-old Keralite bowler, Asha Sobhana Joy.

Asha has dedicated 2 long decades to cricket in India. Her journey which began in Kerala and later made her an inseparable part of the Railways, has now come to steal the show at the WPL, and could now possibly turn into a fruitful entry to the national side.

Asha’s stellar performance at the economy of 8.35 in RCB’s first game of the season, has the town talking. She was picked by the franchise for Rs. 10 lakhs, in the previous season’s auctions and has claimed the Player of the Match award for her 5-fer against UP Warriorz.  While it is intriguing to see what the player has in store for the upcoming games, it’s even more interesting to ponder on her journey so far.

Following the footsteps of her icons

Young Asha Sobhana, at a meagre age of 6-7 years, decided to become a cricketer after witnessing the masterclass performance of Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar in 1998. His 134 runs’ match-winning performance at Sharjah, changed the fate of a young girl in Kerala, forever.

She then followed the footsteps of India’s women bowler Neetu David, whom she saw bowling on the Doordarshan channel. That was Sobhana’s first encounter with international women’s cricket.

Motherly Support from Shabina Jacob

What encouraged young Asha was the motherly support she received from the late Shabina Jacob, the former captain of the Kerala women’s cricket team. At the age of 12, she attended the district cricket trials, without informing her parents. Her promising performance caught the eyes of all, especially that of Shabina Jacob, who then provided her with the required guidance, in the form of a mentor. She took care of Asha, as her own, feeding her and providing all the required equipment in her initial days.

Asha Sobhana

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Pacer in the initial days, but an impressive Leg Spinner for Kerala

Asha Sobhana started her career as a Pacer. One evening, she bowled a leg spin, which sparked hope among the coaches. At the age of 14, she debuted with Kerala Cricket Association as a leg spinner. Later at the age of 15, she joined the MAC Spin Foundation where she caught the eyes of Shane Warne’s coach, Terry Jenner, who asked the rest of the camp to bowl like Asha.

A journey full of stepping stones for Asha Sobhana

Asha’s journey since the age of 15 has been an inspiring one. Failing, winning, and failing again, she had a never-say-never attitude, which makes her an influential sportsperson.

Asha began playing with the South Zone’s team at the age of 16. From there she played for the Challengers at the age of 19. In 2008, she made it to the Under-19 camp. Asha was among the top 20 players chosen for the West Indies tour, but unfortunately, she couldn’t make it among the final 16.

Later, her striking performance in the 2013 T20 season, helped her secure a place with the Railways, where she dedicated a decade of service. She also won the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy 2019 with the Railways.

From the Commentary Box to Captaincy

During her lows at the Railways, Asha decided to leave the team and join the commentary box in 2022. When she travelled to Puducherry, she met her U19 teammate, Shweta Mishra, who asked her to play for Puducherry’s Women’s team in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy 2022. Asha led the team and assisted them in their win against Mumbai, Saurashtra and Chandigarh.

Asha was the leading wicket-taker in the Senior Women’s One Day Trophy 2023, where she picked 16 wickets in all, which included 4-fers and 5-fers.

A Pat of Praise from icons

Her performance has compelled her coach, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan to pat her back. Sivaramakrishnan coached Asha for free after her laudable performance at the first season of WPL. Harsha Bhogle too, has spoken mouthful words of appreciation for the player, hoping she makes it to the national side very soon.

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