Queens of Commentary
The Morning Standard|October 24, 2021
Four young women give a fresh flavour to cricket play-by-play in regional languages during the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup
MANJU LATHA KALANIDHI

As the dust settled on IPL 2021 on October 15, with twists and turns, edge-of-the-seat thrillers, a few voices continued to linger. While the action was enthralling on the field, an exciting line-up of regional women cricket commentators behind the scenes added to the action played out on the field. These women anchors are delivering commentary for the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup that will continue till November 14. We ask them what keeps them on their toes and the challenges of capturing action in vernacular languages.

BHAVNA BALAKRISHNAN

Quick bio: The Chennai girl, who now lives in Mumbai and hosts corporate and entertainment events, anchored Super Singer, a music reality show on Star Vijay for seven years. In 2010, when Balakrishnan was doing corporate events such as welcome dinner for the winning cricket teams, she gave an audition for a commentator’s role in Tamil. And she cracked it. She has been hosting sports commentary since.

Homework and hard work: Started with kabaddi on Star Sports where she underwent a two-week rigorous training. IPL was, of course, a big canvas. With 10 years of experience in hosting events, she has mastered the art of talking and listening simultaneously while keeping track of second-to-second score updates, analysis, comments from cricketing legends. She says the challenge is to speak to an audience where 90 percent of them know more about cricket than she does. “Although Tamil doesn’t have any words to replace terms like fours or sixes, I ensure I impart the regional flavour to the game. A major part of the day is spent in non-live shows, promos etc and getting the right look for the day,” she adds.

Moment to remember: In 2019, Chennai Super Kings had a dream run at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai. She got to do a victory lap with captain MS Dhoni and his team.

Breaking stereotypes: Star Sports has given her a level-playing field. “Never once was I made to feel that women are just eyecandy in a professional game like this. I feel I belong here,” Balakrishnan explains.

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