The FairBreak Invitational was given its most vibrant moment yet when Sita Rana, a police officer from Nepal, picked up a wicket that proved key to Tornadoes beating South Coast Sapphires.
The left-arm spinner trapped Gaby Lewis, the Sapphires opener, plumb in front. The umpire upheld her appeal, and she peeled away to celebrate while making a distinctive hand gesture underneath her beaming face.
The move, inspired by an Indian movie called Pushpa: The Rise, has previously been used by no less luminary than Virat Kohli on the cricket field. According to Sita, it means: “It means I will stay high.”
For emerging cricketers like her, that have arrived at the new T20 franchise tournament to play alongside some of the best known players in the women’s game, it is an apt mission.
Judging by Sita’s performance in Tornadoes 17-run win at Dubai International Stadium, she is in no mood to shrink among the illustrious company.
She ended her euphoric turn by jumping into a delighted embrace with Sophie Devine. The New Zealander is one of the leading batters in the world game, and a role model to Sita.
“Since I first met her, she has been helping me, not just me but all the junior players,” Sita said. “I don’t feel like they are strangers. It feels like they are my mates.”
Sita is from Nepalgunj, and works in the Armed Police Force, a job she got on the strength of her cricket.
Her role model in the game is Gyanendra Malla, the former captain of the Nepal men’s side, who played a series on the same ground in March.
“I never thought I would be able to play in a big stadium like this,” Sita said. “When I was watching their matches I was so excited to play here. To be very honest, I never dreamt I’d have the chance to play with players like this.
“Now, to be sharing the same dressing room with them is unbelievable for me. These players are so good, but they don’t treat us like juniors. They treat us like teammates.”
Defeat ruined the return from retirement of Sana Mir. The former Pakistan captain is returning after two years out of the sport, which she spent largely forging a new career in commentary.
She sent down just one over of off-spin herself, then made 18 at the end of Sapphires’ faltering run chase.
“We are going to come back with a bang,” Mir said of her side, who made 102 for eight chasing 120 to win.
“There were more positives than negatives in this game for us. There are small things we will all learn along the way.”