India locked horns with Pakistan in a high-profile encounter in the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 in Derby on Sunday. The rivalry between the two nations in the game is counted among the fiercest in the world of sports — both in the male and female versions. The fact that all the tickets at the County Ground in Derby were sold out ahead of the fixture is a testament to this fact.
The one aspect that perhaps would be a common factor between the female cricketers from both countries, or for that matter in women's cricket as a whole, is the struggle that they have to go through in their formative years. What makes their struggle different from that of their male counterparts is the prejudice that they have to face as far as their right to play the sport is concerned. In countries where women often have to fight for their basic rights, a lot of girls face the hurdle of being dissuaded from taking up sport as a profession.
Pakistan's top-order batswoman Javeria Khan isn't a stranger to such issues. In an interaction with ICC, the video of which was shared on the global governing body's official Twitter handle, she describes what the situation was like in her country.
"We were not allowed to play on the roads with boys because the culture was quite different," said Javeria.
Sana Mir, captain of the Pakistan women's cricket team, too is familiar with such hurdles. However, if her words are to be believed, then the situation is changing for the better back home.
"People would ask why a girl is playing cricket, but in the last five-six years, I've seen massive change in the perception, and I have seen massive change in the number of girls participating in cricket, on the streets and in the grounds," Mir was quoted as saying in the video.
Senior middle-order batswoman Nain Abidi too echoed similar sentiments when describing the support that her team got back in their homeland, both from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as well as from fans.
"The whole nation is backing us, and they're following us. A lot of people are now aware of women's cricket. There are a lot of people who are following us on social media.
"The Pakistan Cricket Board is helping us all the way. Even though we are not winning matches, we're not winning tournaments, they are backing us because they know that we are talented, we are skilful, and we have that potential to do well," said Abidi.
"We were not allowed to play cricket with the boys because the culture was different."
Pakistan, and women's cricket, has come a long way. pic.twitter.com/ZcGDMK3qR4
— ICC (@ICC) July 1, 2017
The 32-year-old batswoman added that the Pakistan men's team, who recently pulled off a spectacular 180-run win over India to lift the Champions Trophy for the first time, sent them messages of support for the tournament.
"We got a lot of messages of (sic) the men's team, and they're just saying that now it's your turn, you have to do it," added Abidi.
Captain Mir too described Sarfraz Ahmed and Co's win in the Champions Trophy final as a "morale booster".
"Winning the final of the Champions Trophy; this is a huge morale booster for the whole nation and we're all very proud of the way the boys have played," added the veteran of 172 international matches.