LAHORE: Despite being ranked number six among the international women cricket teams, Pakistani girls admit to being happier and confident.
During their nets practice sessions in Lahore, the girls worked on their cricketing and brushed upon some goodwill ambassador skills, representing Pink Ribbon’s Breast Cancer awareness campaign in Pakistan.
Sana Mir, their captain, is among the top 20 players in international women’s cricket and is an all-rounder. Mir says winning the two tri-nation T-20 series in Ireland this August and facing England-A side in women’s cricket – has only added to the confidence of Pakistani team.
“Morale is quite high. We have been preparing a lot for the world cup. Preparations are good; the girls are in high spirit. The ranking of the team has improved in the last one year and the ranking of individual players has improved too,” the veteran said.
“This is a big boost for all of us. We have got a tough pool, but we are ready for it and we will do our best in the T-20,” the captain said of the challenges facing her team in the upcoming tournament.
Vice Captain Nan Abidi says that progress can be seen in the individual and collective performances of the girls. “We have come a long way from the time when we did not have grounds, camps and nets. And with the help of international exposure, a marked difference can be seen in our performances.”
Abidi believes that while there is public support for women’s cricket in the country, more encouragement is needed. “The support that the male cricketers get should be given to women’s cricket also, because we are playing on the same stage.”
“Girls should get the same hype and support [as men]. There should not be any discrimination, game is not about genders. Because this is not girl’s team, this is Pakistan’s team, and we are going to raise the flag there,” Abidi hoped.
Fast bowler Asmavia Iqbal from Multan thinks that the level of ownership and responsibility has gone up in the team, but there are still areas where they can improve.
“Our bowling has been pretty good, and we have won matches because of it. Our batting did not help us score much before, but this time, we scored well against some good teams. So this time, each girl is taking responsibility.”
20-year-old all-rounder Bisma Maroof from Lahore says her performances have also helped improve her international ranking, jumping up three spots from 26 to 23 in the last few months.
“In batting, speaking about our mental toughness, we use to lack a lot. When a bigger team would come, we used to get scared. I think the entire team has worked on that. Now we go to play to scare the other teams, instead of getting scared ourselves,” Maroof said confidently.
Marina Iqbal, an all rounder, emphasised that playing with better-trained teams have helped some girls. “Playing against stronger teams, like South Africa, West Indies and England has helped us realise our level. We feel much better about our game.”
She shared the areas of the game she has focused more on. “Because I play down the order, I have worked on hitting techniques and worked on yorkers and slow bowling.”
Javeria Khan from Karachi bats at middle order. “In T-20 there is no big or small team, we are going to win, because we are at our peak performance stage. We have gelled in well as a team.”
Coach Mohtashim Rasheed is all praise about the gradual progress of of his charges.
“Having defeated A teams, now they believe that they can give tough time to any team and are capable of defeating them. Hopefully, this self belief will continue, that any team can be defeated in any ground.”