Although she has not been able to perform the way she wanted in the ongoing tournament, she will be determined to turn it around in the remaining three matches. In a chat with Women's CricZone, she talks about her cricketing journey so far, the Women's PSL, her father's passing and a lot more.
Q: You have the best T20I bowling figures for Pakistan. Also, you were the first one to bag 100 wickets in T20Is for Pakistan. How do you feel about that?
It's a matter of great honour for me. A lot of hard work has gone into it. My parents have offered a lot of prayers for me and I feel they have been answered. My teammates have always been there for me and I have received a lot of support from all the different captains that I have played under. The likes of Sana Mir, Bismah (Maroof), and Javeria (Khan) have thrown their weight behind me. And I am incredibly thankful to PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) for providing me with such a wonderful platform to perform for the country.
Q: How did you start playing cricket?
Cricket has always been there in my family. It has been like a family program. I was really interested in cricket from the very beginning and have played other games as well. My father was a first-class cricketer. So whenever we would sit together, the only thing we would watch was cricket and that's how I was drawn towards the sport. Back in my childhood days, I used to play with boys because not many girls in my locality were interested in the sport.
Q: How was your experience of playing your first 50-overs World Cup back in 2013 in India?
We played all our games in Cuttack (Odisha) and not in Mumbai because of how the India and Pakistan bilateral relations were back then. And we were aware of it. We accepted it because our main focus was to play the World Cup. Also we wanted to play in Mumbai because of the quality of pitches that are there and having seen the same in the Indian Premier League (IPL). So, yeah it was something that was my desire back then and it still is. The atmosphere throughout our World Cup campaign was really nice and friendly. I wish to go back to India again and play someday.
Q: You were not picked for the 2017 World Cup. What was that disappointment like and how did you deal with it?
I firmly believe that roadblocks and speed breakers are extremely important in life. It makes you a better human being and an improved cricketer. So yeah it came as a shock for me. But it made me realise that I needed to improve certain facets of my game. And I am still working on the same. While watching the 2017 World Cup I learnt how you need to put a price on your wicket and be very watchful during your stay in the middle. I learnt how to plan my innings and build partnerships. I worked on the mental side of things, and my fitness. When I made my comeback in 2018, I was determined to perform in every game. Either with the bat or ball, I just wanted to give my best at every outing. I am tirelessly working to play my best cricket for Pakistan.
Q: You mentioned your father was a first-class cricketer. How was his influence on your game?
My family members always wanted someone from within the family to play international cricket for Pakistan. My father was always supportive of me because of my keen interest in the sport. Whenever he would watch me play for Pakistan, he used to tell me that I am the backbone of the team and if I continue to play well, then the team will win more games. He would rebuke me for my disappointing displays on the field but would also heap praise on me for my match-winning performances. I have immensely benefitted from his support because I feel you need someone to be your pillar of strength in order to perform consistently well.
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Q: How do you see Bismah Maroof as a leader?
Bismah has always been an impact player for Pakistan. As a captain, she has taken some wise decisions in the past and her experience counts a lot. She is a really good player and her comeback fills the void that has been bothering Pakistan. Her leadership skills help Pakistan to excel as she motivates all the players in the unit to perform well.
Q: What are your individual goals for the World Cup?
I am really excited about the fact that I am playing in my second ODI World Cup and taking every match as just another game. I have performed for Pakistan in the past and I am going to continue the same. Having the kind of experience that I have now will certainly help me and I will try to capitalise on every opportunity I get.
Q: PCB chairman Ramiz Raza has said that the board is planning to organise the Women's Pakistan Super League (WPSL) soon. What are your thoughts on that?
Playing international leagues is of paramount importance. I was the first player from Pakistan to play in the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL). It was a wonderful experience as I shared the dugout with players from various countries and played under different coaches. I learnt about different game plans and how to strategise in various situations. WPSL is going to provide an amazing platform to the budding talent in Pakistan and will help the up-and-coming players to grow at a great pace.
Q: You lost your father in November last year. How did you handle the setback?
When I was leaving for the West Indies in July 2021, that's when I got to know that my father was suffering from cancer. It was very shocking for me when I came to know that he was suffering from cancer because he had never complained of poor health. We tried to get him treated but because of certain other implications due to his age, it didn't work out properly.
I was doing my training with the rest of the team ahead of our ODI series against the West Indies in November. And it was Jummah (Friday) when this unfortunate incident happened. All of a sudden I started getting a lot of calls from my family and that's how I learnt about his passing. I skipped that series and went back home. It was so difficult for me to deal with the situation. But I got a lot of support from my family that motivated me to join the team and perform again. My teammates were also there for me and helped me to overcome the setback.