x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Gold for Pakistan's women cricketers

What mattered most to Sana Mir about winning the first cricket gold medal at the Asian Games was what it meant for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Nida Rashid, right, and Javeria Wadood celebrate their victory over Bangladesh yesterday.
Pakistan’s Nida Rashid, right, and Javeria Wadood celebrate their victory over Bangladesh yesterday.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA // What mattered most to Sana Mir about winning the first cricket gold medal at the Asian Games was what it meant for Pakistan.

Mir led Pakistan to a resounding, 10-wicket victory over Bangladesh in yesterday's Twenty20 women's final, sparking celebrations on and off the field.

"We have floods, terrorism and so many other bad things happening back home, but the gold medal will give enough reasons to our people to smile," Mir said.

Recent floods have displaced millions of people in Pakistan and suicide bombings have claimed innocent lives.

Frequent power failures are another big problem for the government.

In sport, Pakistan's men cricket team have been caught up in a corruption controversy with three of their players suspended over allegations of spot-fixing during a Test match against England in August.

"What I am interested in is that the way we have played today, it's good for people of Pakistan," Mir said.

She did not want to be dragged into the controversy surrounding Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, whose cases will be heard by International Cricket Council's anti-corruption tribunal in January.

"Whatever is happening [in match-fixing allegations] so far we even don't know whether it's true or false," Mir said.

She took two wickets with her off-spin bowling, but the architect of victory was all-rounder Nida Rashid with four wickets for 16 runs and a 43-ball knock of 51 that featured seven boundaries.

The gold medal brought instant rewards for Mir's team as Pakistan sports officials handed a cash reward of US$1,000 (Dh3,673) to manager Ayesha Ashar soon after the medal ceremony.

Pakistan team players counted the money in a loud voice "one, two, three …" as retired generals Arif Hasan and Arif Siddique handed over the cash to Ashar.

The team will surely be rewarded with more prize money; the government has promised 10 million Pakistan rupees (Dh430,000) for gold-medal performances at the Asian Games.

Yesterday's gold was the first for Pakistan in eight years at the Asian Games, since boxer Mehrullah won gold at Busan in 2002.

Despite knowing little about the rules of the cricket, around 2,000 Chinese spectators cheered for Pakistan to win the final.

The Pakistan Olympic Association chief Hasan was more vocal than even the public-address system announcer.