Street cricket: A man’s domain no more

Girls of different ages seen playing different sports on a regular basis on a street in Nazimabad No 4

A girl catches the ball while fielding during a street cricket match on a street in Nazimabad No 4. The street is dominated by girls playing different sports. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Her heart pace increases as she is about to bowl the last ball of the over, she runs up, swings her arm and releases the ball. She feels a rush of adrenaline as she appeals, ‘Howzat’ to the young umpire.

Haniah, a second-year student, is quite fond of cricket. She plays street cricket with other girls on a street in Nazimabad No. 4. She is also a part for her college cricket team.

On surface, the street is just like any other street in Karachi, but closer inspection reveals that it is girls that dominate it. Girls of different ages are seen playing different sports on a regular basis.

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“Before this street, I used to play inside our house. I hope to become a part of the national team someday,” said Haniah.

These girls, seen playing on the street, are fond of playing whatever sport you can think of, said Warda Shamim, a teenager who plays on the street. Shamim is considering playing cricket professionally, ever since Pakistan’s women cricket team defeated the Indian team during the T-20 Cricket World Cup match.

“We had a huge celebration after the women team won. As long as I get support from home, I would want to play professionally as well,” she said, and ran off to take back her place on the wicket.

Unsurprisingly, the interest of majority of the young girls lies in batting. “Bowling is boring. No one wants to do it,” said an eight-year-old Mehmil, who cheered after every hit.

Watchful eye

Kanwal Shamim, mother of three girls who was lurking around watching kids play and having a quick chat with her neighbour every now and then, remarked that the street is quite safe.

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“Even when we were ordered to remove the barriers, we kept them by agreeing to keep them open in the day and closing them in the night so that the street is open for kids to play even late in the night,” she claimed.

A street like no other

Girls playing cricket is not only a regular occurrence on this street, but is followed religiously with tournaments running even late well past midnights.

When asked if the girls are harassed or catcalled while playing, Shamim said nothing like that happens, with a perplexed expression. “We have been living here for a long time and the street has always been filled with girls playing different sports. Even us [the mothers] sit outside to have some fresh air and catch up with one another.”

The street, apart from being a hub of cricket, has its own basant, movie and match screenings whenever the residents feel like it.

“Girls don’t really have a platform of their own such as parks and grounds around here,” said Abdul Rafay, a resident of the street who is doing his BBA from a local university. “Why should we stop them? We play along with them,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th,  2016.