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Monday, Aug 26, 2019

ICC Women’s World T20: Pacer Diana Baig keen to make an impact against India

On Sunday, spotlight will be on Pakistan spinners Anam Amin, Nida Dar and the experienced Sana Mir. But pace will be equally crucial. This is where Diana Baig could offer something different.

cricket Updated: Nov 11, 2018 11:54 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Diana Baig was not picked for Pakistan’s first match against Australia.
Diana Baig was not picked for Pakistan’s first match against Australia. (Facebook)
         

How do you plan to stop India, and especially Harmanpreet Kaur who is in murderous form? That must be the question going around in the World Twenty20 after her rampage on Friday. No team will be more stressed right now than Pakistan though. An India-Pakistan cricket match will always be more than about cricket. And to make matters worse for them, Pakistan go into Sunday’s clash on the back of a huge loss to Australia that is bound to sow doubts in their mind, perhaps even prompt few changes to the squad.

On Sunday, spotlight will be on Pakistan spinners Anam Amin, Nida Dar and the experienced Sana Mir, who is the top-ranked bowler in ODIs. But pace will be equally crucial. This is where Diana Baig, who was not picked for Friday’s match against Australia, could offer something different. Not only is she athletic, Baig also possesses a good record against India. In fact, her maiden ODI wicket was that of Smriti Mandhana.

“The World Cup is the biggest event that a cricketer can compete in. I had a good outing in the 2017 ODI World Cup in England which helped me secure a permanent berth in the Pakistan team. I feel a responsibility towards the team and my country. I have definitely become more confident and am able to apply and experiment in the field,” said Diana in an interview before the World Cup began.

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Diana’s is a story of perseverance, of how a girl broke the shackles of a strictly patriarchal society in Gilgit — the northernmost administrative territory in Pakistan — to go on to play cricket and football. “I have been able to create a mind shift of people back in Gilgit. It all started with my immediate family members and then trickled down the relatives and far off family and friends and soon a number of girls were inspired to choose a sport,” said Diana, who has played 16 ODIs and 11 T20s for Pakistan and taken 13 and 7 wickets respectively.

Winning the World Twenty20 could be a perfect catalyst to further the cause of women’s cricket in Pakistan. And even though she wasn’t even born when Imran Khan guided Pakistan to their greatest sporting glory in the 1992 World Cup, Baig draws inspiration from Imran Khan the Pakistan Prime Minister.

ALSO READ: ICC Women’s World T20: Hayley Jensen takes a blinder to dismiss India opener Smirti Mandhana - Watch

“He is a legend. Under his leadership Pakistan won their only World Cup. It’s so inspiring to have a cricket legend as PM of the country,” said Diana, who believes a bilateral series against India will only help women’s cricket. “I enjoy playing against India as it brings out the best in you. And it would be great to host India women in Pakistan,” she said.

First Published: Nov 11, 2018 11:54 IST

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