Cricketers up and close with Archana (with photo)

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Kolkata, Dec 4 (UNI) City girl and model-turned-vj-turned-host Archana Vijaya feels she has opened up a new window to cricket, something akin to the inside locker room programmes in EPL soccer and NBA basketball.

The 24-year-old quit Channel [V] in May and signed up with Neo Sports, which has the right to telecast all international cricket matches in India. ''I am doing a show called Tour Diary for Extra Cover, which is our pre-match show on Neo Sports. I travel across the country with the Indian team and the foreign teams, like it is with Pakistan now,'' Archana told UNI at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

''I have already done five tours, including Sri Lanka, Australia, West Indies and Bangladesh.'' Archana, who hails from Kolkata, having completed her education from Loreto House and Bhawanipore College before she won the Supermodel 'Get Gorgeous' done by Channel [V] and later joined the channel as a VJ and shifted base to Mumbai.

''They (Neo Sports) first approached me when the West Indies came in January. I was still with Channel [V] and I did freelance for them at that time going to Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Eventually, they wanted me to sign up in May,'' she said.

''I am free to do whatever I want in my life except do sports,'' she said.

Compared with Mandira Bedi and Mayanti Langer, she said,''I am not a real cricket specialist. It's a new genre altogether. I talk about the cities, the romance of the place and the places to be. I make the people far away feel at home.'' ''I do the sights and sounds of different places. I venture out to find out the lighter side of the cricketers, the lighter side of the game. Its fun. It's a diary. People like to see the players in a new light. I give them the man behind the cricketer,'' says the Bengali bombshell.

''For the first time I am on live television and that is another high because there is no room for mistakes. But the fact that people are accepting me is most heart warming thing. It feels good to be accepted,'' she said.

She also has a lot of anecdotes to share.''The only time I was nervous was when I went to interview Sachin. I asked him: How do you feel when so many people look up to you? He replied: Archana, Im only 5'6'' how can anyone look up to me! That is what legends are made up off. I was immediately comfortable. He teaches you a lot even when he is just casually chatting,'' she adds, with admiration written all over.

''There were some great moments, like Andrew Symonds taking me for shopping in Hyderabad or visiting Sreesanth's house in Kochi, where we did some break dancing, or the dandiya in Gujarat with Irfan Pathan. I have been doing really fun stuff,'' she added.

''I have always been interested in sports. I used to play basketball for my school. I was into athletics too, so I have always been sports-oriented,'' she added.

She has of course walked the ramp at all the famous places, including Milan, the fashion capital of the world. She was also a part of France and Rome fashion week.

''I have been a model for all the leading designers of the world.

And now I can pursue all that as long as they are not sports. Before I was bound by a lot of things in my contract with V. Now its relatively easy going,'' she signs off, getting ready for the Garden City.

UNI

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