Pakistan women’s cricket team captain Sana Mir thinks her team can take inspiration from the triumph of their male counterparts in the recently concluded 2017 Champions Trophy as they begin their World Cup campaign in England.
Pakistan take on South Africa in their campaign opener on Sunday after delivering mixed results in the two warm-up games before the main matches.
Sana’s team beat West Indies by five wickets while chasing 247 courtesy Nain Abidi’s unbeaten 81. However, they were thumped by Australia in their next warm-up where Pakistan set a modest 157-run target for the Aussies, which they promptly chased down in only 23.2 overs for the loss of just two wickets.
Sana thinks cricket has become more about controlling one’s nerves under pressure as she prepares to take on the Proteas in Leicester.
“It’s more of a mental thing now; it’s about nerves and keeping your cool under pressure,” Sana told ICC. “Those are the areas, especially, that I have been working on as a captain because the pressure builds up in a huge tournament and the opposition can intimidate you at times. If you can hold your nerve at that time, you can turn the tables.”
The 31-year-old’s side qualified for this year’s World Cup via the qualification round in February and they have been in England from the start of June to prepare for the biggest 50-over event.
“It’s been pretty good preparation so far,” said Sana, whose Pakistan team is ranked seventh in the world. “We’ve been here since June 2 and we’ve played some practice matches and the quality of cricket we have played is improving every day so I’m very happy with the way the team is progressing.”
Sana added that their main aim is to qualify for the semis and move up in the rankings. “We haven’t played a semi-final of a big tournament as yet so that would be an amazing thing to achieve at this point,” she said. “At the moment we are at the bottom of the table so to get into the top four or five teams, that’s something we are looking to do in round one.”
Sana, Pakistan’s ODI captain since 2009, highlighted her team’s strengths. “I think the strength in the bowling line-up is quite good and the batting is catching up a bit. Now it’s a balance between the two. The day we pull it off in both departments is when we can upset any team,” she said.
Sarfraz’s men started the Champions Trophy as the lowest ranked team in the tournament and kicked-off the tournament with a humiliating defeat against India. However, they never looked back after that, eventually beating India in the final, and Sana thinks her team is ready to add to the happiness of Pakistan cricket fans.
“It was something that was needed for the country, we’re a sport-loving country and we have been looking for a big win for a long time now, so it’s amazing and the people are very happy,” she said. “The support this time is huge and people are following women’s cricket back home so if we can cause a couple of upsets in our campaign and improve our ranking, it would be great news for our cricket and for Pakistanis.”