After Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi’s comments of getting “more love in India than back home” irked a number of people across the border, his women’s team counterpart Sana Mir was mindful, but she played a straight drive saying her team is adored more back home because it seldom gets a chance to play on its own turf.
Soon after his arrival in India, Afridi courted a big controversy when he told the media in the Capital that they are “loved more in India” than in Pakistan.
Pakistan women’s team skipper Sana was asked the same question and she could not stop laughing on that. But later came up with a diplomatic answer keeping in mind the uproar Afridi’s statement created back home.
“We really love playing here in India but we also love playing back home. In fact, we get love at home more and love playing back home more because we don’t get a chance to play at home,” Sana told reporters on the eve of their marquee Group B clash against India in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi.
“But we are looking forward to playing in India. We had a good crowd in Chennai and we enjoyed playing in front of them.”
Unlike their male counterparts, Pakistan women cricketers are in a relaxed environment in terms of security and they are enjoying every bit of it.
“We have been looked after well. We are enjoying our stay here. The security is not too high and we are liking it,” said the 30-year-old Sana.
Like most Pakistanis, Sana too is a Bollywood movie buff and plans to do some shopping, especially sarees during her spare time in the tour.
“I follow Indian movies. I like listening to Indian music and I am fond of Indian sarees,” she said.
Among Bollywood actors, her personal favourite is Aamir Khan and Abhishek Bachchan and India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is someone who gives her inspiration.
“I like Dhoni. He is an inspiration for me. Among Pakistani cricketers I like Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan,” Sana said.
Talking about Saturday’s match against India, Sana said just like the men’s contest later in the evening it will be a high-pressure game for both the sides.
“The intensity is going to be little more and I am hoping for a bigger crowd presence. Every game in a World Cup is important, especially in the women’s format because you are directly reduced to four teams from 10. It’s (the match) going to be influential in deciding how far we go in the World Cup.”
“There will be pressure on both the teams.”
Meanwhile, the Indian women’s team captain Mithali Raj said they are confident going into Saturday’s game but expects a tough fight from the neighbours.
“We are confident and we will try and continue to do the good work in the next game. We are playing Pakistan and there is a lot of hype being created around this match, more so because the men are playing Pakistan on the same day. Since we are playing at home and it’s a World Cup game so there is so much hype.
But for us it’s another game, They are another opponent whom we would want to beat. That way if you look at it, it will reduce the unnecessary pressure,” she said.
“As an opponent, Pakistan is a good side. They have this quality of never giving up so easily, they always fight till the wire. Even in the last encounter in went till the last over. So we will not be complacent,” Mithali added.
On the personal front, Mithali is in good form and her first priority is to qualify for the semifinals having exited from the group stages in the last edition in Bangladesh.
“Personally, I am happy with my form. What was expected from me as an opener I could deliver but I would like to be consistent because it is imperative that in T20s your openers need to give a good start in the first 6 overs,” she said.
“This time the team is doing very well, so our first aim is to qualify for the semis.”