pakistan women's cricket, women's cricket world cup, women's world cup, pakistan cricket
Pakistan's women cricket team. -Photo by author

Calling them the ‘women’ cricket team won’t be entirely right as they are just girls, not women. If you calculate the average age of Pakistan’s women cricket team and compare it with the average age of the other seven teams competing in the upcoming ICC Women Cricket World Cup, our team, with most of its players still in their teens or early twenties, will be the youngest in the lot.

But that does not in any way mean that they lack in any department of the sport that brought them together on one platform with the same dreams, hopes and aims. “I have told them that with the kind of work they have been doing, if they apply themselves in all the four departments, that is, batting, bowling, fielding and wicket keeping, they can turn a match around in their favour no matter how big a team they may be playing against,” said chief coach Mohtashim Rasheed.

“I also tell the girls that they have to take it match by match and try to give their best each time. After all it is the team that performs better on any given day that emerges victorious in the end,” he added.

About their particular group in the World Cup, Group B, the chief coach informed that it has four teams, namely, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Due to security reasons and in the face of threats by the Shiv Sena, the entire group’s matches have been shifted from Mumbai to a new venue, Cuttack, in Orissa. The coach or the team hadn’t heard much about Cuttack but their spirits remain high. “All we want to do is play as we qualified for this World Cup,” said Mohtashim.

“South Africa also qualified with us. We have beaten them before. As for Australia and New Zealand, we haven’t beaten them as yet but that doesn’t mean that we cannot,” he pointed out.

Memories of last Cup

His captain Sana Mir is also upbeat about the whole tournament. This is the second World Cup for her and some of the other girls in the side, namely, wicketkeeper Batool Fatima, Qanita Jalil, Asmavia Iqbal, Javeria Wadood Khan, Bismah Maroof and Nain Abidi, making them the seniors. Sharing her memories of four years ago, Sana remembers how Pakistan was not expected to reach the Super Sixes and how their tickets and booking for the return trip was all done in advance.

“And then our match against Sri Lanka changed everything. All our batters contributed and we beat them through sheer team effort. Then it was the Sri Lankan team that moved out of the hotel as we moved into their rooms for the Super Sixes,” Sana laughed.

“But despite the upset, we were still the underdogs in the Super Sixes. India dismissed us for 53, England for 75 and New Zealand scored 378 against us. Their Suzie Bates, with her 168, created the record for the highest runs in any Women’s World Cup. Still, we beat West Indies and improved our world ranking, too. This time we are in the top six teams and Sri Lanka and South Africa are the seventh and eighth teams,” she informed.

Hard work and determination

Training with the 15 players named for the Pakistan side by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Women’s wing were five reserves — Kainat Imtiaz, Sania Iqbal Khan, Zeba Manzoor Hussain, Mariam Hassan Shah and Marina Iqbal. “They won’t be going to India with us, but train as hard with the entire team as they are reserves and know that they can be called for national duty anytime during the competition. If not this time then later, these girls know that their hard work will eventually pay off as only the best get a place in the playing XI like our new girls, Elizabeth Barkat and Diana Baig,” said Mohtashim.

Captain Sana Mir. -Photo by author

“Thanks to the new domestic set-up allowing all cities to play, spinner Elizabeth Barkat was discovered just before the Women’s World T20 last year and we can’t do without her now. And pacer Diana from Gilgit is our recent discovery. If she performs well during the Cup, she makes a place for herself in the team,” he said.

The final camp before the World Cup was also  held in Muridke, which is situated just outside of Lahore, and the squad ran into difficulties when it started raining cats and dogs for some three days continuously there, which resulted in their missing net practice and their friendly matches with boys’ cricket academy teams. It was raining as hard in Lahore as well so going there for practice was also of no use. That was when the chief coach Mohtashim, deputy coach Tahir Mahmood and trainer Yasir Malik decided to hold indoor training sessions.

Taking the girls to the Green Room at the Lahore Country Club, Muridke, the coaches and trainer stepped outside while the girls held an aerobics session. “Half an hour?” asked Mohtashim. “No, Sir, 45 minutes,” corrected Sana.

“We trust them to do aerobics on their own,” explained Mohtashim later as they might have some reservations about our being there. “I trust my senior girls completely. They will hold a tough workout session as all in my team have become very serious about their fitness lately after they started winning international matches,” he said.

Sana from the start gave away strict orders to stop laughing. Qanita, too, kept an eye on all as they worked on their cardiac fitness. After 15 minutes the ones in the front moved to the back of the room and the ones at the back came ahead. No one was allowed to hide at the back. And when the pace of the music picked up all together, captain included, finished their session with bhangra. And unaware about the girls transforming from grasshoppers to leaping frogs inside, the coaches and trainer tapped their feet outside.

The aerobics was followed with a strength and endurance training session by trainer Yasir Malik with Mohtashim bucking up the girls by admiring their will to not let nature come in the way of their hard work. “Likewise you also have to handle different conditions during your matches. You need to be able to field for 50 overs and not get tired to bat or bowl as well,” he told them. “This strength and endurance training will come in very handy for that,” he said.

Meanwhile, having worked so strenuously during their aerobics session, the girls’ hands kept slipping while doing pushups on the floor that had become moist from their perspiration. Towels were brought in to wipe the floor before they could continue.

Makeovers

The girls were allowed a day off during camp when the Women’s wing had arranged makeovers for them at the Depilex Institute in Lahore. The big PCB coach was boarded once again to head to the beauty salon. But if you think that it must have been a time for relaxation for the players, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Any normal young girl would have a field day getting a facial, manicure/pedicure and hair cut but not our girls. “Why do we need to go there?” Sana was continuously asked by one player or the other a day before the parlour visit. “They worry if it will hurt,” Sana laughed. “I got a call from the salon earlier and they wanted to know if we were all excited, I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the girls would rather run extra rounds in the ground than go for a makeover,” she shared.

And just as the coach entered Lahore city, Elizabeth headed towards the door. “May I go home instead? It is near from here. I’ll come back when you all are done, I promise,” she pleaded with her captain, who reasoned with her that she didn’t have the authority to let anyone off the bus without Women’s wing manager Ayesha Ashhar’s permission, who was in Islamabad attending a family engagement at that point. So Elizabeth and the others got hair treatments, skin health consultations where they were educated about sun blocks, etc., by the experts.

“Giving them free makeovers was my daughter Redah’s idea,” said beautician Mussarat Misbah. “It is just our way of showing support for the team,” she added.

“I feel bad saying this, but I didn’t even know that we had a women’s cricket team,” said Redah Misbah-Qureshi. “It was only recently when I read that the men’s team had lost in last year’s World T20 and the girls team had beaten India that I learnt about them. Then I Googled them to know more about them. I found out that they have been around for over 10 years now. Looking at their pictures, I thought that they were nice looking girls who could use some help in the grooming department so we got in touch with the PCB Women’s wing and invited the team over,” she said.

“These girls represent Pakistan. We are proud of them. And when the foreign female tennis stars could be so conscious about their looks, our girls, too, don’t have to look like Plain Janes,” she said.

diana baig, pakistan women's cricket, pakistan cricket
Diana Baig. -Photo by author

Team work and responsibility

The word team really means Together Everyone Achieves More (team) and this is what the Pakistan women’s cricket team is all about. Sana, the captain, may even be younger than some of her team members but she is the one who holds them together. She patiently listens to all of them and gives good advice. When she reads about some new fact, which her father keeps texting her, she makes sure to share it with her team. She settles their differences, be they just the choice of music being played as the girls hardly have any other serious issues with each other. She makes sure everyone is looking after their health. When she found out that some of the girls hadn’t had much water during their brief Lahore trip, she tossed out bottled water to the back seats and ordered them to have a drink. You can’t have a better captain and friend who all the girls listen to and look up to.

Not to be underestimated

“When the Pakistan women’s team says they want to win the World Cup, I tell them they very well can,” says PCB Women’s wing manager Ayesha Ashhar. “This is not the team that didn’t know where to stand on the crease or where to bowl or how to place players on the field. They have come a very long way. And thanks to the new domestic structure there is more fresh talent coming in from all parts of the country to make the side stronger and better all the time,” she said.

“The PCB has organised Level-I coaching courses for all the team members, too, so that they can train others in their regions,” she provided.

Good luck!

Each girl in the Pakistan women’s cricket team has her own story of struggle, determination and perseverance to tell. They have all come a long way, causing major upsets in each international tournament, there is no undermining the Pakistan side in the World Cup. They have it in them to beat anybody on any good day. It remains to be seen how they fare in the upcoming event but they have left no stone unturned in training hard for it while helping each other on the way. So the end result really doesn’t matter. In this country where one girl took a bullet to be able to go to school, they are winners already!

Squad

1.     Sana Mir (captain) 2.     Nain Fatima Abidi 3.     Bismah Maroof (vice captain) 4.     Nida Rashid 5.     Javeria Wadood 6.     Sidra Amin 7.     Rabia Shah 8.     Batool Fatima Naqvi (wicketkeeper) 9.     Asmavia Iqbal 10.     Qanita Jalil 11.     Sumaiya Siddiqui 12.     Sadia Yousaf 13.     Elizebath Barkat 14.     Nahida Bibi 15.     Diana Baig

Officials: Mohtashim Rasheed (chief coach), Tahir Mahmood (deputy coach), Basit Ali (batting coach), Yasir Malik (trainer), Ayesha Ashhar (manager) and Sunaina Munir (physiotherapist)

Schedule of ICC Women’s World Cup 2013

Date    Teams    Group    Venue (tentative)    Timing (PST)

Jan 31    India v West Indies    A    Mumbai        14:00 Feb 1    Australia v Pakistan    B    Bhubaneswar         8:30 Feb 1    New Zealand v South Africa    B    Barabati, Cuttack         14:00 Feb 1    England v Sri Lanka    A    Mumbai        8:30 Feb 3    India v England    A    Mumbai        8:30 Feb 3    Sri Lanka v West Indies    A    Mumbai        8:30 Feb 3    Pakistan v New Zealand    B    Barabati, Cuttack        8:30 Feb 3    Australia v South Africa    B    Bhubaneswar         8:30 Feb 5    India v Sri Lanka    A    Mumbai        8:30 Feb 5    England v West Indies    A    Mumbai        14:00 Feb 5    Pakistan v South Africa    B    Barabati, Cuttack        8:30 Feb 5    Australia v New Zealand    B    Bhubaneswar         8:30 Feb 7    Play Off A4 v B4         Barabati, Cuttack        8:30

SUPER SIX STAGE

Feb 8    A2 v B2         Mumbai    14:00 Feb 8    A1 v B1        Mumbai    14:00 Feb 8    A3 v B3         Bhubaneswar    8:30 Feb10     A2 v B1         Mumbai    14:00 Feb 10    A1 v B3         Barabati, Cuttack        8:30 Feb 11    A3 v B2         Mumbai    8:30 Feb 13    A1 v B2         Mumbai    8:30 Feb 13    A3 v B1         Mumbai    8:30 Feb 13    A2 v B3         Bhubaneswar    8:30 Feb 15    Playoff – 3rd/4th place        Mumbai    8:30 Feb 15    Playoff – 5th/6th place        Barabati, Cuttack    8:30

Feb 17 FINAL Mumbai 14:30


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Comments (36) Closed




shoukath
Jan 27, 2013 04:48pm
that is shame for pakistan u know india is kind heart thats why pakistan came to india
Sultana
Jan 27, 2013 02:37pm
Calling them women and then giving them makeovers. This article reads as slightly condescending. So what if visiting home takes preference over going to a salon. (Yes, it is a free make over and a kind gesture) but these women should be allowed to bask in the beauty of their talent, if that is what makes them comfortable, so be it and actually so what? 'Plain Janes'?? They look perfectly normal! It's so elitist a comment and feeding into the image conscious nonsense of the culture industry!
Ray
Jan 27, 2013 04:48pm
Great! Sports seems to be the only ambassador now-a-days to spread goodwill. All those who are bringing in politics by demonizing both sides should be ashamed of themselves. There are more good folks than bad on either side and goodwill will always prevail.
SY from USA
Jan 27, 2013 04:09pm
Great that Pakistan has a ladies cricket team. Another great sport for the females of Pakistan. The main in life, is not the victory, but the fight. The essentials is not to have won. But to have fought well. Keep this in mind . Indian people are great and friendly. It is only Governments which cause trouble trying to make India and Pakistan fight.
Cyrus Howell
Jan 27, 2013 04:01pm
"Fifteen of the finest." I'll say.
viv
Jan 27, 2013 02:13pm
i hope u wud say something against the atrocities inflicted against hindus in pak too
Munkar e Hadees
Jan 27, 2013 05:27pm
u reckon Pakistani women actually told their right age?
Neer Nayan
Jan 27, 2013 05:29pm
Khushaamdeed! Waiting to watch the fire works of Asmavia, Diana and the strategies of Sana & Co..
manghirmalani
Jan 27, 2013 11:52am
Congratulation Young Ladies
Srini
Jan 27, 2013 02:06pm
You Funny :), If pakistan is not playing, do you think the tournament will not happen? it will. Pakistani's should be thankful to india for so many thinks.
raju
Jan 27, 2013 01:48pm
Nonsense
hari
Jan 28, 2013 01:29pm
i am from cuttack,odisha.Let's see how ur team plays with odisha team in practice match tomorrow.
Akram
Jan 27, 2013 12:35pm
good luck girls, do your nation proud.
Rashid Sultan
Jan 27, 2013 12:36pm
Who is this Nair who claims to speak for 1.1bn people of India? India's people love their brothers and sisters from Pakistan. We are, and will be, one people despite the artficial man made lines that divide us. Stick your personal venom to yourself Nair. You don't speak for all Indians but for a very small 'taliban' like anti Pakistani Muslim cretins in India. No different to the small minority of in Pakistan who make loud anti India noises.
Hassan
Jan 27, 2013 11:11am
Good Luk girl!!! Just try your best :)
Sohraab
Jan 27, 2013 01:00pm
India should be thankful that the Pakistani team is willing to play there otherwise ICC would have transferred the cup to South Africa. Shame on Indians!
Faisal Taquie
Jan 28, 2013 07:26am
Just like Pakistanis cannot come to India, can you please not come to our newspaper websites? I am sure you will like your mirch masala news at hindustantimes!
Faisal Taquie
Jan 28, 2013 07:27am
Dude! when you despise us so much, why are you on a Pakistani newspaper page? Cricket is not India's property!
Faisal Taquie
Jan 28, 2013 07:29am
Really good to hear some sane voices from India. I am sure majority of people on both sides. I hope good showing from all women's teams, especially Asians due to their passion and more obstacles that they have to face than compared to other teams.
G.A.
Jan 28, 2013 06:14pm
Best of luck to them. They should watch over their shoulders for rapists and other perverts that prey on women in buses in India. Also for Saffron Terrorists that Shinde mentioned.
Nair
Jan 27, 2013 10:47am
Best of luck but, one question remains, why do you want to play in India? You better stay put where you are!!!!!!! India doesn't want any one from Pakistan to step on its soil. This is in the best of interest of both of all the stake holders.
Akram
Jan 27, 2013 11:21am
Moron, India is where the tournament is taking place. Thats why they are coming there.
Sophie
Jan 27, 2013 07:01pm
Radio1 FM91 was also a part of the event at Depilex for our Women's Cricket Team :) All the best to them, we're all praying for you back home!
Amna
Jan 27, 2013 08:47pm
Wish you all the Best girls!
Shahryar Shirazi
Jan 27, 2013 10:17pm
Thanks Avi. Looking forward to a good tournament.
vijay singh ivory coast
Jan 28, 2013 12:10am
BEST OF LUCK CHARMING BEAUTIES
ANEES
Jan 28, 2013 02:45am
Congratulations? On what?
Ranjan Kumar
Jan 28, 2013 04:27am
Welcome and good luck! Hope you have a great tournament and great memories.
mf
Jan 28, 2013 04:45am
It is good to see these young ladies dressed smartly to play cricket, as if we are entering the 20th cenyury.
Vineet
Jan 28, 2013 05:35am
Why most of the matches are in Mumbai, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack . Why they are not spread across India?
Khan
Jan 28, 2013 05:41am
Bring Laurels to Pakistan. We are rooting for you. You make us proud of our girls.
Captain
Jan 28, 2013 05:53am
We Indians should be careful who knows these women cricketers might be terrorists in disguise as a cricketers.
raja hindustani
Jan 28, 2013 11:27am
Being a small city, people of Cuttak (Orissa) will be more sports enthusiastic than mumbai....so I am sure Pak girl enjoy playing in cuttak ground. All the best.
Avishek Roy
Jan 27, 2013 10:11am
All the very best Team Pakistan... Welcome to India...
jabir
Jan 27, 2013 09:32am
Good luck...u win or lose, nation is with you. show the real face of pak to the world
Khalid
Jan 27, 2013 09:21am
"Calling them the