Rajni Kumari is on cloud nine,literally. The 14-year-old Chandigarh leg spinner,her very humble background notwithstanding,is emerging as one of the rare cricket talents as her nine-wicket haul in the Punjab inter-district tournament has prompted the state selectors to select her in the Punjab U-19 girls team for participation in the North Zone tournament.
Rajni,who studies and plays at Government Model Senior Secondary School Sector 26-Bapu Dham Colony Academy,has defied all odds and kept the faith shown in him by her mother and brothers who encouraged her to play cricket. The happiest is her mother,Usha Kumari. After Rajni lost her father in 2007,who committed suicide owing to depression and financial crises,her brothers did everything they could to let their sister take up cricket at the academy that was merely a dumping ground before it was converted into a cricket ground three years ago. Two of her brothers sell bhel puri at the Sector 19 market on a rehri while one is an electrician.
We were clueless after I lost my father; we were in tatters. Cricket has given me a great boost and a reason to live. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an inspiration. He also comes from a humble background but owing to his hard work,he has become a national hero, says Rajni. I want to work hard on my cricket and keep continuing to play for Punjab at the junior and senior level in the coming years. I would aim to complete my studies alongside cricket and look for a job. My mother and brothers have done a lot for me,I would like to repay them.
Coming from a poor background,we only saw cricket on TV but never had the platform or kit to learn the game. This school ground was in a shambles and was just limited to a dumping ground. But when the news spread that it was turning into a cricket field,there was a buzz in Bapu Dham Colony. Though my mother was totally against the concept of joining the academy,my friend Preety convinced her. Instead of wasting our time roaming here and there,we girls would get together at noon after the school and go for training under coach Rajesh Patha, says Rajni.
She started as a medium-pacer,then became an off-spinner and finally learnt the art of leg spin. She is also a useful middle-order batswoman.
Heaping praise on his ward,coach Rajesh Patha says,She has shown tremendous growth as a cricketer despite many stumbling blocks. Her leg-break bowling has an effective impact on the batting sides. She derives sharp turn as well as good bounce. If nurtured well,she can do wonders for her state and maybe for India some day.