1. You became the first Pakistani player to score a century in Women’s ODI. How is the feeling to hold this record?
I remember making a lot of 90-something scores in the club games I was playing in 2012. I would get a lot of criticism for not being able to convert those knocks into a hundred. Batting at one-down, I got a good opportunity against Ireland in Dublin that year. But when I entered the “nervous nineties”, I got to know why they call it so, because it was the first time in an ODI I had made a 90-plus score. But after a point, I replayed all the criticism I had got earlier, especially from my relatives. When I eventually brought up the century, it felt… umm… it’s difficult to explain, you know.
It’s not just your maiden century but the first one in the history of Pakistan women’s cricket. That day I was over the moon.
2. Who were your role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
As a kid, I used to be restless, not only did I have a monkey mind, but I would also behave like one. I would feel this compulsive need to jump around, be engaged in some activity or the other. Thankfully for me and those around me, I was into sport from school and through my college days. So maybe because of the hyperactive tendencies, I always liked the way Jonty Rhodes would throw himself around on the field, take those spectacular diving catches.
3. Who do you credit the most for your success today?
Of course my parents & my brothers. There constant support and encouragement have always kept me going, grow and motivated. Their trust on me and believe in my passion and talent give me a ray of hope. Support is a thing which always gives you satisfaction & consolation & brings that belief of being valued. Even if there’s a single person to support, that would be enough to give you the power to stand up against the whole world.
My career and my parents taught me how to be a better human being.
4. 11+ years to your cricket service! You are also a certified Level 1 Coach. Which has been the most special moment which is still fresh in your heart?
Quite a few, My first century feat. On That day it felt that I had planted a seed for something new and instilled others to believe they can also replicate this feat.
5. Your message to the fans supporting Pakistan women’s cricket team?
We all know cricket is most watched sport all over the world. It’s good to see that now people of all ages recognize women cricketers and respect them like men cricketers in Pakistan. Feels good to see fans seeking autographs and having selfies with women cricketers. It’s always nice to have fans backing and supporting you. Players especially need support of the nation the most when they aren’t winning. When the team is winning, everything is already on their side. I’m not against criticism but it should be within boundaries & should be constructive so that players use them to their advantage & improve. Because I believe constructive criticism is generally good for self-improvement and indirectly helps you to become a fruitful and stable sportsperson.
6. What are your thoughts about young players who have recently joined the Pakistan cricket team? Being a senior player yourself, how do you ensure that new-comers are made to feel at home?
Until a couple of years ago, we were struggling to find the right combination between the senior and juniors. But among the young girls who have come in, I think Ayesha shows a lot of promise with the bat. Nashra Sandhu, the left-arm spinner, also has a sound tactical understanding of the game. Diana, Sidra Amin & Muneeba are good finds.
Being a senior player I always wanted to break down the barriers between seniors and juniors. That’s why I’m more vocal and friendly to my youngsters. I want them to open up and express themselves on and off the field. Because if you want to play as a team and win competitions then we all have to be on the same page and work collectively.
I believe that respect isn’t granted by title or tenure, it’s earned through team unity and performance.