Bismah Maroof, T20 captain of Pakistan's women cricket team, turned 25 today.
Here's 7 interesting facts about her career and journey so far:
1) Bismah's cricketing career is her father's dream come true
Unlike what certain adverts would have us believe, there are fathers out there who would want nothing more than to see their daughters whack a sixer. Bismah's father is one such dad.
"My father always wanted me to become a professional cricketer and so I decided to give it a shot and went for trials in Lahore. I was inspired by my father and brothers who loved the game and started by watching matches with them on TV. Occasionally, I would play with them too," she shared in an interview with Dawn.
She adds that family support plays a big part of her success: "It does not matter what financial background you belong to if you’ve got full support from your family to become a cricketer," she said in the same interview.
2) Her Islamiat teacher foretold her success
Not only did she have support at home, teachers in school also gave her skills on the field two thumbs up.
Maroof recalls a cricket-related memory still fresh in her mind, “We did not have a proper pitch at school, but we used to play cricket during recess. Once we got an opportunity to play with the hard ball. While fielding I took a blinder. My Islamiat teacher, who was looking at us from the class, called me to tell that I have a very bright future in cricket. I did not think much about it, but her words had an impact on me.”
3) She proved to be a star from her first innings
After joining the Under-21 Women's team, Bismah was benched in the first two fixtures. It was when she was given a go, that too in the last, she impressed with an 82.
“I was too young at the time and did not know how to react. I did not know how much I should be excited about the opportunity. Later, I received a lot of appreciation for the knock. That is when I realised that I achieved something.”
4) She won't let near misses get to her
Bismah missed her first century by a few runs, twice. But does she let that get to her? Nope.
She said, "I scored 99 runs against South Africa this year and was out for 92 against Bangladesh too. Both experiences were heart-breaking, but I am positive about future and will soon score a century."
5) She knows just what Pakistan women's cricket needs to flourish
Ask her how she thinks women's cricket can improve in Pakistan, and it's obvious that the passionate cricketer has it all figured out:
"We think that that a there should be a separate national academy for female cricketers and more grounds should be built around the country particularly for women which would help the cricketing culture grow amongst women. As of now we do feel left behind," begins Bismah.
"To encourage women to engage in cricketing activity and keeping them motivated it’s necessary for the authorities to make the profession more lucrative. Women deserve increment in pay with time as much as male cricketers," she adds crucially.
6) Afridi, who? She doesn't care what anyone thinks about women's cricket potential
“We have picked this career for ourselves and as professionals we should continue to play cricket. We do not care what anyone thinks,” says Maroof.
7) But she knows what's vital:
“We [women national team] support each other and that is enough for us.”