From clandestine matches as a schoolgirl to emerging as an inspiring figure for her community, Minnu Mani’s journey through cricket is nothing short of remarkable. Hailing from the Kurichiya tribe in Wayanad, Kerala, the 24-year-old all-rounder’s recent achievements have set hearts ablaze. Not only did she make history as the sole player from her state to join the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) through Delhi Capitals, who invested ₹30 lakh in her, but she also marked her triumphant India T20 debut against Bangladesh last month.
Yet, what truly moves Minnu Mani is the outpouring of love from her hometown, Wayanad. She’s now a symbol of aspiration for young girls, as parents enthusiastically urge them to pursue cricket, inspired by Minnu’s achievements. However, her path wasn’t always easy. She confronted societal resistance and her parents’ initial disapproval when she embraced cricket. Concealing her participation in local matches until the eighth grade, she juggled her passion alongside her responsibilities in the paddy fields and her family’s farming chores.
The fervor Mani generates is tangible as Wayanad locals celebrate her India cricket feat. A road junction in the Mananthavady Municipality, just 3 km from her home, has been renamed “Minnu Mani junction” in her honor. This public gesture of recognition, akin to roads named after film stars and political figures, deeply touches Mani, who hopes for a connecting road to her home soon.
Minnu’s transformation isn’t confined to accolades; her achievements have positively impacted her life. Her earnings from the Delhi Capitals in WPL allowed her to provide better for her family, even purchasing her own means of transport – a Scooty. What’s more, she’s excited about potentially securing a job with the Indian Railways, a far cry from her father’s laborious work on paddy fields.
With the backing of BCCI and her own determination, Minnu Mani’s journey exemplifies women’s cricket’s evolution in India. From a modest background, she now envisions improving her family’s quality of life. She looks forward to representing India in the Asian Games, showcasing her talent as both an impressive left-handed batter and an off-spinner. Her selection for the Indian team during the Bangladesh T20 series surprised her, given her limited experience with the star-studded Delhi Capitals team.
The upcoming Asian Games will provide a fresh platform for Minnu Mani to shine. As she dons the India jersey and competes on the field, the entire Wayanad region will likely be glued to their screens, cheering for her with immense pride. Her journey from playing incognito to becoming a beacon of inspiration serves as a testament to her indomitable spirit and the transformative power of pursuing one’s passions.