Ode to a passionate, driven athlete: Asmavia Iqbal

Dev Tyagi
New Update
For a national women’s cricket team to be having an average age of 26, Asmavia Iqbal at 30, brought about a fine balance between the usefulness of experience and the exuberance of youth.


With her peaceful disposition and studious focus, Asmavia Iqbal, who called it quits from all forms of international cricket represented what might be called the golden age of Pakistan’s Women’s Cricket.


Playing alongside stars of great repute in Sana Mir, Diana Baig, Nain Abidi, opponents didn’t exactly cherish taking Pakistan’s outfit lightly as it featured a top quality pacer who was no mean pushover with the bat.


With a long, hoppy action, one that seemingly discounted the theatrics upon delivering a ball- consider sledging, cold stares and angry exults- Asmavia Iqbal’s measured pace brought lateral movements on foreign pitches. Away from the flat green tracks, she grew up playing in whether at Lahore or at Multan. It also showed immediately in the useful results she fetched for a side that remained as dependent on her pace as on strong backfoot punches and cover drives of Javeria Khan or Ayesha Zafar.


Consider her last but one of the most profound performances in international cricket, coming in the mother of all battles: the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2017. From the six games that Pakistan played, Asmavia emerged with 8 useful scalps. Her feat over and above some noted contemporaries, such as Natalie Sciver, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and some in her own contingents such as Diana Baig, Sadia Yousuf and Nashra Sandhu.


The best figure mark of 3 for 62 might have come in handy in rattling England but it did little to demonstrate her true caliber. Need proof. Here’s some.


Would you consider Asmavia’s international record- 160 matches, 114 wickets, 1343 runs- not telling on the kind of impact she’s had on the game?


One of Pakistan’s most successful women cricketers, Asmavia’s presence in a fiery and somewhat unpredictable line up, famous for sudden failings and improbable achievements could be likened to that of an arbiter who sorted things out during the chaos and expected less in return.


In one of the finest and most memorable T20 games ever contested between Pakistan and South Africa, circa Sharjah, 2015, it was Iqbal’s calmly struck 23, followed by an incredible 3-23 that scuttled South Africa, just two runs shy of winning a low-scoring game.


But doing urgent repair-work and inflicting stinging blows when it most mattered was the familiar byline of Asmavia’s remarkable 12 years playing career. In a much forgettable World T20, 2014 run for Pakistan, their only consolation win, earned against Ireland came at the back of Asmavia’s 3-14. The breathtaking performance shone brightly at a time when either side had failed to qualify for the semis. How often does one come across T20 spells of sheer misery as that of Pakistan’s reliable right armer: 3-18? Do we see that often in the men’s game?


But mild-mannered and astutely thinking Iqbal was also a poignant throwback to an era where T20 hadn’t yet emerged and cricket was still about exulting pressure on the opposition, relying as much on the cunningness of bowlers as on the wild heaves of the blade.


In her debut game against Sri Lanka, a rarity for the tourists who won the encounter at Karachi, it was Asmavia who led the way through a tidy opening spell. Beating the edge of the blade of somewhat confused openers – Dedunu Silva and ChamariPolgampola. Her figures read 9-0-39-1. A thick haired 19-year-old had successfully put the lid on Sri Lankan scoring.


She would later emerge in a feisty exhibition of 38 well-compiled runs, facing 66 deliveries but carving 4 boundaries. In an almost picture perfect sepia-tinted moment of a youngster’s glory, the likes of Sana Mir and EshaniKaushalya had realized that a new star had enveloped on Pakistan’s Women’s galaxy, one that would go the long mile.


World cricket, with its rich patina of followers and fans, critics and talents would consider Iqbal’s unabashed passion for the great game as a mark of her true legacy. As an athlete, committed to fitness and as an adversary, a thaw in the path of Pakistan’s challengers, you played fairly and you gave it everything Asmavia Iqbal. Take a bow!