India is set to face Pakistan in the opener of ICC Women’s World Cup in Mount Maunganui on March 6.
The tournament will be held from March 4 to April 3 across six cities in New Zealand. Indian team is led by Mithali Raj, while Bismah Maroof will lead Green Shirts.
Pakistani captain Bismah Maroof, who just returned from maternity leave said she is well aware of the pressure of playing against arch-rivals India in the Women’s ODI World Cup opener next month. She said the marquee match will inspire girls across the border to make a career in the sport.
“Pakistan vs India is indeed a great stage for any player to establish her credentials, but at the end of the day, it is a cricket match that has to be won by executing the basics right and keeping things simple,” Maroof, who is making a comeback after motherhood, told a news agency.
“This match is a great opportunity to inspire millions of girls in Pakistan and India to take up this sport as a profession. It is the biggest rivalry and attracts innumerable eyeballs. I hope girls in the two countries will watch this match and will be inspired to take up the game,” she said.
She praised the Indian team led by Mithali Raj, but she was very optimistic about Pakistan’s chances against them.
“The Indian team is a good unit and has done well recently. They also have had some very good youngsters coming in of late. Our aim is to make it to the semi-finals, something which we have never done before. I strongly believe that this side has all the ingredients to achieve that,” she said.
Maroof has played 108 ODIs and an equal number of T20I matches and has scored 2602 and 2225 runs, respectively. Having seen many ups and downs in her journey so far, she had once decided to quit cricket to embrace motherhood.
“It has been an incredible journey and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Being a cricketer has designed my life and played a very important role in the person I am today. There have been ups and downs, which have made me learn,” she said.
To make a successful comeback after motherhood is not easy and Maroof has worked very hard to regain that level of form and fitness.
“The journey from childbirth to getting here had its fair share of difficulties, as I had to start from scratch to regain my fitness,” she said. “Women don’t often return to sports or continue their professional careers after getting married or childbirth. I spent a lot of time doing strength and conditioning sessions at the National High-Performance Centre in Lahore,” she said