KARACHI: Pakistan women’s cricket team captain Bismah Maroof expressed her disappointment over the International Cricket Council’s point-sharing verdict in a media talk via video link with reporters here on Tuesday.

“Obviously, it was a disappointing decision. We had been waiting to play against India and I am sure the PCB had also been working on it [to make sure the series was held] but we just didn’t get a definite response,” Bismah said.

“Had the matches gone ahead as per schedule, they would have been very competitive. We were at fourth position [then]. As a team and as a player, it would have been easy to accept a decision if the games were held,” she lamented.

She admitted that the team has had very hyped up games against the arch-rivals.

She also revealed that the players missed playing against India. “Definitely, we miss playing against India. Pakistan keeps politics separate from the sport and has expressed its willingness to play,” the captain said.

Bismah, however, wished India ‘good luck’ and added that they got the points without playing competitive matches.

“If you talk about us, we’ll take this [the point-sharing verdict] positively as we’ll now play competitive games. We don’t get that many games so, as a team, I believe we will be featuring in some tough games by playing this round,” she added.

When asked whether she would ask the PCB to take up the matter with the ICC Dispute Committee, Bismah said PCB’s legal team is reviewing the situation closely and she will back up whatever it decides.

When asked what she makes of the comparison between India and Pakistan women, she said India worked on grassroots level for women’s cricket.

“Their players come out of a system where competitive cricket is played which is why they are mentally stronger and their skills are honed. Whereas, we struggled because there was no work done on grassroots level in Pakistan previously. PCB is now giving it its due importance and working on making a strong domestic infrastructure.”

Bismah also talked about the fitness plans the players have been given by the PCB amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “Imran Khalil is monitoring our fitness and has sent us the fitness plans. The PCB has asked us to keep ourselves fit and has made two groups in which 33 players from the senior team and 23 from the ‘A’ team are engaged in fitness activities. I hope all the players are following the fitness protocols.”

Speaking about the fitness plans, Bismah said the lockdown has helped her recuperate after the surgery on her injured thumb. “Because of the lockdown, I didn’t need to rush my rehab,” she said.

Bismah was ruled out of the World T20 after she had fractured her thumb in a game against England.

When asked whether she was in favour of a ‘women’s PSL’, Bismah admitted that there was some work that needed to be done before deciding anything about Women PSL.

“We need to check the number of players available at the moment before we could chalk up a plan for a women’s PSL. We need to lay a solid foundation at first for any future plan to materialise,” she maintained.

On whether she had any say in the decision-making of the team, Bismah said: “Discussions are held as far as selections are concerned, but the final call on selection matters rests with the selectors.”

Responding to a query if staying away from cricket grounds had any impact on the players’ mental health, Bismah said, “Women’s cricket is very different from men’s. Now that we are staying home, our mothers have got an opportunity to engage us in other activities. So, as a player, it is very important for all of us to realise what our duties are. But the board should do the same for women if they are doing something for men so that we do not face any difficulty when things eventually stabilise.”

Bismah also threw her weight behind the young talent and said they need some time and exposure to prove themselves.

Biusmah paid glowing tribute to ex-Pakistan all-rounder Sana Mir who retired recently.

“Sana is a legend and true ambassador of the game. Women’s cricket and our players grew under her wings in Pakistan. She has played a key role in stabilising and getting women’s cricket recognition in our country. She deserves a lot of appreciation,” Bismah signed off.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2020

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