ANI Photo | “Alyssa Healy is one of the first persons I go to…..”: UP Warriorz youngster Saima on bond with Aussie star

UP Warriorz pacer Saima Thakor, currently playing in the second season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), opened up on her bond with skipper and Australian star Alyssa Healy and the performances of Indian players in the competition.
Saima has represented UP Warriorz in five matches so far during the competition, taking three wickets. Her spell of 2/30 played a crucial role in her side’s thrilling one-wicket win over Delhi Capitals last Friday. Notably, she is yet to make her debut for India and represents Mumbai in domestic cricket.
Speaking to ANI about her bond with skipper Healy, Saima said that she initially thought that the Aussie star would be a strict person, but it is the opposite. She said that Healy is one of the first persons she would go to in times of need and also talked about how other seniors have helped her so far.
“I initially thought she would be strict and would not talk much. But it is the exact opposite. I would say that she is a kid from inside. She is a very nice person. Whenever I need something or I want to talk, she is one of the first persons I go to. Even Tahlia (McGrath) and Sophie (Ecclestone) would encourage me while bowling, tell me what kind of deliveries to use. Deepti has also encouraged me a lot and helped me focus. These seniors have made me feel really comfortable,” said Saima.
On sharing the dressing room with international stars in the league, Saima said that initially she felt nervous and hesitant in the company of these players, but the seniors have kept the atmosphere really smooth.
“First one-two days, I was nervous as they were senior players. We have played plenty of cricket with our Indian senior players so they used to come to us and communicate strategies to us. They are very free when it comes to giving their feedback. I first felt hesitant to approach an international cricketer, but our dressing room has been very chill and smooth. Everyone is there for each other. We enjoy a nice environment,” said the pacer.
On her match against DC, in which DC’s batting collapsed during a run-chase of 139 runs and lost their last seven wickets really quickly for 25 runs, Saima said that what was happening on the field during the batting collapse just could not be comprehended by the team.
“It feels really good to have won. We were not able to comprehend what was happening. We were focusing on what we could control, staying calm and thinking clearly. We were going for the win. We were going to make DC work hard for their target instead of walking with a thinking that they could chase it down,” said Saima.
Saima took the wickets of Indian international stars Jemimah Rodrigues and Shafali Varma in the match. Opening up on taking their wickets, she said that, “I liked both the wickets. I had thought to myself that I wanted Jemi’s wicket. I got her wicket. I also felt really good about dismissing Shafali.”
Talking about the performance of Indian batters like Shweta Sehrawat (100 runs in six innings), Kiran Navgire (110 runs in seven innings), Deepti Sharma (207 runs in seven matches with two fifties), Poonam Khemnar (63 runs in five innings) etc, Saima said that all these players have performed well, and went on to call Shweta, the U19 T20 World Cup 2023 leading run-scorer and title winner, as a “future star”. She also praised Deepti, a senior all-rounder, for consistently delivering with the bat.
“I think our Indian batters are doing really. Shweta is a fine batter and has a lot of potential. She is going to be a star and will win a lot of matches for us and India. Deepti has always been consistent. Whenever we need someone to step up, she is the first one to do so. This attitude of Indian batters is really great. Kiran is still learning some things and will come good. Poonam’s approach and intent is really great, I love her confidence while batting. Our international players have played a lot of games. If our Indian batters are doing so well now, we really have something special,” said Saima.
On her bond with vice-captain Deepti, Saima said that the senior Indian player is a funny person off the field and does not make youngsters feel as if they are in the presence of a really big player.
“She made us all feel extremely comfortable and talks to us really well,” she added.
Saima also said that spinner Sophie Ecclestone, who is also the world’s top-ranked white-ball bowler from England, treats every game like a battle that needs to be won and is trying to instill this mentality in younger players.
“Her motivation level is really nice. She plays the game like it is a battle, that she has to win. There is a winning habit in her. This is the kind of mentality she is trying to develop in youngsters. She tells us to try our best. We have learnt a lot from her,” said Saima about Sophie.
On the team’s performance, which has lost four and won three matches, sitting at number four in points table, Saima said that ups and downs happen in sport and the wicket in Delhi is really different from that of Bengaluru, where the first leg of the tournament happened.
“Different bowlers come with different tactics and techniques. It is not very easy to bat, we are trying hard as we can. We are just trying to find the best combination. We lost one of the batters due to injury, Vrinda Dinesh. This caused changes in our combination. The characters that girls are showing, responsibility they are taking is really great,” she added.
Warriorz still have a chance to qualify for playoffs, a privilege meant for the top three teams. Saima said that the team has not made any specific changes with qualification in mind.
“We are focusing on what we know best and focusing on execution. Thinking out of the box could cause something wrong, so that is not our focus,” she concluded. (ANI)

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