Finding Strength in Setbacks: The Story of Gouher Sultana

The inspiring story of Gouher Sultana, from being one of the best in the business to hitting rock bottom leading her on a journey of self-discovery.

Gouher Sultana.
Gouher Sultana.

She was a part of the Junior camp in 2005, and she used to be a regular member of the senior camp before finally getting her maiden call-up into the Indian team in the year 2008.

The 35-year-old left-arm spinner from Hyderabad made her international debut on 5th May 2008 in an ODI against Pakistan. She picked up 66 wickets at a strike rate of 34.9 and an average of 19.39 and an impressive economy of 3.32 in 49 innings in the ODI format. Her tally of wickets includes three four-wicket hauls in the ODI format.

As far as the T20I format is concerned, she picked up 29 wickets at a strike rate of 27.4 and an economy of 5.73 and an average of 26.27 in 37 innings. She was one of the best in the business during her time at the international level. She last played for India in the year 2014 in a qualification playoff in a Women’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. Her best performance with the ball in the T20I format came on 19th January 2014 against Sri Lanka in the 1st ODI when she returned with exceptional match figures (8-4-4-4) in her spell of 8 overs.

She returned with another match-winning spell in the 2nd ODI when she returned with another match-winning (10-3-15-4) spell with the ball. That also happens to be her last appearance for India so far in the ODI format. She was dropped from the side and eventually went out of the selectors’ radar. “There were times when I thought of quitting, seasons I didn’t do well, my mental health was affected. But then even when I was about to give up, I was like, no, this shouldn’t be the end. I want to end it the way I want it.’ It was not to prove anything to anybody, but I enjoyed playing and I still enjoy playing. That’s the primary reason I am still here.” Gouher Sultana speaks about going through a mentally challenging phase after being dropped from the national side. However, she kept herself motivated to not give up.

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She represented Hyderabad, Puducherry, Railways, and Bengal at the domestic level. She had an impressive season in the 2019-20 edition of the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy as she was the joint third-highest wicket-taker of the season with 15 wickets to her name in 13 innings for Bengal. She picked up 10 wickets in 10 innings for Bengal in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy last year which is the joint-highest for Bengal alongside Sukanya Parinda.

“Even if you take the last five seasons, this has been one of the best seasons in terms of the ball coming out of my hands. The ball is in control. For a bowler, that is the best thing you can have.” The 35-year-old left-arm spinner speaks about feeling good about her bowling in recent times, rediscovering her lost mojo with the ball. She went unsold in the auctions for the Inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League.

However, she didn’t lose hope and again enrolled her name in the auctions for the 2nd edition of the WPL. She again went unsold in the auctions, however, she was eventually picked up by the UP Warriorz for a base price of 30 Lakhs. “After no one picked me in the first round, I was like, Okay it won’t happen. Honestly, I was not expecting to be picked, but since you have registered, you watch, and somewhere you hope. I wasn’t expecting especially UP Warriorz, because they already had two left-arm spinners Sophie Ecclestone and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Other teams at least had a vacancy in that department.” The 35-year-old left-arm spinner Gouher Sultana speaks about her expectations while eagerly watching the WPL 2024 auctions.

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(Quotes sourced from Espncricinfo)

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