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Pune orphanage to representing Australia: Lisa Sthalekar scripted her own 'Life of Pi' journey

Medha Godbole
Modified 04 Aug 2013, 23:41 IST
Australia v New Zealand - Women

Lisa Sthalekar

More than 100 One-Day Internationals and an excess of 2500 runs scored and 135 wickets in the kitty. The only international woman cricketer in the world as of February 2013 to hold the unique double of 1000 runs and 100 Wickets in ODIs. Add to that, a lineage traced back to Pune, Maharashtra, India. That is Laila, or better known as Lisa Sthalekar for you.

Having announced her retirement in February 2013, Lisa, however is still very much a part of the sport. Lisa, an extremely talented all rounder, was a part of the ICC Women’s World Cup Champion Australian women’s cricket team. Lisa announced her retirement following close on the heels of the triumph of Australian eves.

But what a lot of us don’t know is that this gifted cricketer from Australia actually has her roots in Pune in Maharashtra. Born as Laila to her parents from Pune, she was, however, left at an orphanage attached to one of the most well known hospitals in Pune.

Incidentally, Haren Sthalekar, born to Indian parents, and Syu, coming from a British lineage, staying in the USA, were in Pune looking to adopt a baby boy. That is because they already had a daughter. It seems like providence that they landed in Shreevatsa, the orphanage where Lisa’s parents had left her due to their helplessness and inability to take care of her. The Sthalekar couple was there to adopt a boy and as luck would have it, they did not find anyone appropriate.

About to leave the orphanage, they were suggested to take Lisa, as according to the orphanage authorities, the baby girl needed intensive family care. The Sthalekars decided to keep her for a while. But the future Australian cricketer was not the one to be ignored. She settled well with the Sthalekars and how!

Sthalekars eventually decided to get a sister for their biological daughter and adopted the baby girl. Once the adoption formalities were done, they named her Lisa. After travelling around the world for his missionary work, Haren Sthalekar settled in Sydney.

From then on, Lisa was introduced to cricket by her father and she never looked back. Initially, she played cricket with the ‘blokes’. Whilst pursuing cricket, 33-year-old Lisa also did her major in psychology and religious studies.

Sthalekar finally got her big break when she made her debut, playing for New South Wales towards the end of 1997–98 season against Queensland. She began her career in cricket primarily as a bowler who batted in the lower order. Soon, she broke into the Australian national team when she got a chance to play her first One Day International in 2001.

Kudos and all the luck to Lisa! Although we would have loved to see more of her!

Published 04 Aug 2013, 23:39 IST
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