Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com
Marufa Akter, the new face of the Bangladesh women’s cricket team, appears to be a star in the making. Simplicity just sparkles in her eyes and the young woman exudes the confidence of an athlete brimming with supreme confidence and aspirations at the highest level.
It is quite common for every athlete, no matter what age, to have butterflies in their first appearance in front of cameras. And while Marufa did not appear to be without nervous energy, the 17-year-old was full of confidence at yesterday’s press conference in Mirpur.
When asked who her cricket role model was, Marufa was quick to name India’s Hardik Pandya, the fast bowling all-rounder who fits the rare profile that every team in the world is currently keen to have in their ranks. Marufa’s justification of selecting Pandya speaks volumes of her character, on and off the field. “He [Pandya] is like me, that’s why,” Marufa explained her pick with a one-liner.
Her captain Nigar Sultana Joty — sitting beside her with the apparent expression that resembles a proud elder sibling – was telling the reporters about how Marufa’s swing bowling, her superior fielding skills, coupled with the ability to possess courage and engage as a team player, combine to make her an asset for the Tigresses. Bangladesh are set to play the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup Qualifier, pitted against Ireland, Scotland and USA in their group, in the United Arab Emirates later this month.
Marufa arrived at the national team having lit the domestic circuit. She emerged Dhaka Premier League’s player-of-the-tournament with 23 wickets at 3.21 runs per over in 11 matches, boasting a seven-wicket-haul in one of the outings. The right-arm quick then backed her performance in the National Cricket League in Sylhet last month by becoming the second-highest wicket-taker with 13 scalps in seven matches, with an impressive economy-rate of 2.76 runs per over.
Former Bangladesh men’s national cricketer and the Tigresses’ chief selector, Manjurul Islam, also addressed Marufa’s batting prowess, fitted for the shortest format, at the crucial number six-seven position. Marufa, thus, made the cut to the national side purely based on her cricketing skills and she now finds herself boarding a plane for the first time as the Tigresses departed for Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Marufa grew up playing cricket with her elder brother, who encouraged her to become a cricketer. Once the Bangladesh squad was announced, he was the first one to receive the news from Marufa. Her journey, so far, emanates sheer inspiration. During the coronavirus epidemic, she had to plough with her father to keep the poverty-stricken family from falling apart.
Marufa promised her father to make it big to convince him to allow her to take up the sport. Later, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) supported Marufa, getting her to sign up with BKSP and that inspired her to further broaden her horizons of ambition.
Now the stage is set for the girl from Nilphamari, a district in northern Bangladesh who has attracted attention in the country’s sporting arena with the continued success of archer Diya Siddique.