Sports Cricket 14 Mar 2016 ICC World T20: Girls ...

ICC World T20: Girls in green’s cinderella story

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | C SANTOSH KUMAR
Published Mar 14, 2016, 1:48 am IST
Updated Mar 14, 2016, 1:48 am IST
As cricket proved to be an effective medium for women’s empowerment in Pakistan, Sana & Co. became role models for many youngsters.
Pakistan women train in Chennai on Sunday. (Photo: AP)
 Pakistan women train in Chennai on Sunday. (Photo: AP)

Chennai: To understand why Pakistan skipper Sana Mir says women’s cricket in her country has come a long way, one has to sample this quote of Shaiza Khan, considered the pioneer of the women’s game across the border. “Fundamentalist newspapers carried daily threats, such as stoning our house down. They were opposed to any new activity for women. We even had death threats,” Shaiza was quoted as saying in British journalist Peter Alan Oborne’s book Wounded Tiger that traces the history of cricket in Pakistan.

At a time — the mid ’90s —when religious right-wing elements were campaigning to keep women behind the hijabs and regarded women participating in sports as anti-islamic, the idea of Shaiza and her sister Sharmeen to assemble a bunch of girls to represent Pakistan in cricket World Cup was a daring move. Pakistan women, by then, had already missed five consecutive World Cups since its inception in 1973 and even seen countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark making its debut before them.

 

Boarding the flight to India to compete in the 1997 World Cup was not just a watershed moment for women’s cricket in Pakistan, but also for other sports. “As we courted success stories, our media and public have started supporting other teams such as badminton, football and squash. Recently, one of our woman mountaineers scaled the Mount Everest. It’s wonderful that cricket has done a lot of good for the women in Pakistan,” said Sana, who has been leading the team admirably for the last seven years.

As cricket proved to be an effective medium for women’s empowerment in Pakistan, Sana & Co. became role models for many youngsters. “We endured difficult times, but we managed to change the perception of the people. Now, I see parents come up to me and tell that they want their daughters to be like us. This is the greatest impact our team had on the country,” said Sana beaming with pride.

 

A well-spoken and an articulate leader, the 30-year-old Sana is a modern representative of Pakistan. She didn’t mince words while talking about the adversity of not being able to host international matches at home. Bogged down by lack of exposure, Sana said the thought of premature retirement had crept into her mind so many times, but the support of family and friends kept her going. “When I took over as captain, between the two T20 World Cups in 2010 and 2012, we didn’t play a single international match. From one big event to another, we went without any international exposure. It surely affected my motivation. I had to keep working hard,” she recalled.

 

The match between India and Pakistan is considered the mother of all clashes and Sana’s girls have achieved what their men counterpart have failed to do in World Cups — beating India. “We did it in 2012 and would love to do it again. Beating India is something that we have been proud of. It was really important for us to have the record broken after a string of failed attempts from our men. We really enjoy the thrill and excitement of the India-Pakistan clashes. And we don’t expect anything less when we take on India in New Delhi,” she added.

 

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