By Sandipan Banerjee
She is pretty, popular, and among the top sports presenters on television in India. She is the India Premier League (IPL) girl, Archana Vijaya. Born in Kolkata, lived in Mumbai now married in Delhi, Archana’s journey to glory hasn’t been easy. She shares her incredible story with Sandipan Banerjee.

Archana Vijaya rules the television sets during IPL. Photo Courtesy: Archana Vijaya

Archana Vijaya rules the television sets during IPL. Photo Courtesy: Archana Vijaya

CricketCountry (CC): From a normal college girl of Kolkata to probably the most popular sports presenter in the country, take us through this incredible journey.
Archana Vijaya (AV):
Thank you. It is truly humbling to have you say that. It certainly has been a roller coaster ride. Glad I have had the opportunity to work on so many different shows over the past few years, broadening not just my skill set but also being able to experience so many different things. From winning ‘Get Gorgeous’, being a VJ to being on various reality shows, presenting cricket and IPL, all have been a learning experience I have thoroughly enjoyed.

CC: Before joining sports broadcasting industry how much sports you followed?
I always played sport in school. Swimming, basketball, volleyball and athletics were some of the sports I played. Besides I have always enjoyed watching sport growing up as a kid, because my dad is an avid follower of cricket, football etc, so naturally we watched these events on TV together as a family.

CC: What were the challenges you have faced in your career so far?
Well there is always the challenge of reinventing yourself and making your presentation more and more approachable to our viewers. Being a woman, and coming from a modelling background, there was also the challenge of being accepted in a largely male-dominated domain and get appreciated for more than what just meets the eye. But it is these challenges that make you strive to be better and better and I enjoy taking up challenges so it suits me just fine.

CC: Who is your favorite cricketer?
Sachin Tendulkar is my all-time favorite cricketer, but among the new crop I really admire how Virat Kohli is really coming into his own and backing himself through thick and thin.

CC: Your favorite IPL team?
Born in Kolkata, lived in Mumbai for 12 years and I have now moved to Delhi. I am spoilt for choice!

CC: In this last season of IPL we have seen lot of involvement of women (commentators) in the broadcasting team. Do you feel this will attract more female audience to cricket?
Absolutely, and that is the aim for us as presenters and broadcasters to have this tournament enjoyed by one and all like an activity to be enjoyed together as family.

CC: How tough is it for women as cricket presenters to compete with men — especially working along with former cricketers and established experts?
You certainly have to do your research, and back yourself with an understanding of the game. But not once do I ever try and sound like an expert, I am there to ask relevant questions to the men of credibility and present a show. My job is different from that of a commentator, I am a presenter, so there is no competition, in fact to converse with legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Sherry Pa [Navjot Singh Sidhu] is a great learning experience more than anything else.

CC: Of late, IPL cheerleaders (none revealing their identities) have time and again talked about the difficulties in their job — men watching consistently, passing comments, etc. Have you ever faced such issues? What advice would you give to young women travelling to India for such jobs?
Honestly, as adults we make choices and should know what it entails. I have often felt sorry for them [IPL cheerleaders] dancing in the heat in the stadium, and obviously being cheered by the crowds, but that’s part and parcel for the job. In that arena we are all doing different things to make this come together as a spectacle for everyone, cricketers play cricket in the sweltering heat, we present [the matches] in the heat , cameraman do their job and they [IPL cheerleaders] dance , all of it for a larger goal.

(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)

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