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Sana Mir Makes History

by AFP

Asif Hassan—AFP

From playing street cricket to becoming the world’s best spinner, Mir’s journey inspires Pakistanis

Pakistan this week showered praise on Sana Mir, the former women’s cricket team captain who rose from bowling in the streets to become the most successful spinner in women’s one-day international history.

The 33-year-old took her 147th wicket in her 118th game when she dismissed South Africa’s Sune Luus in the third one-day international (ODI) of the ICC Women’s Championship in Benoni on Sunday. That took her past Anisa Mohammed of the West Indies and Australia’s Lisa Sthalekar—both at 146 wickets—to the pride of Pakistanis, who hailed the achievement with joy on social media and in proud newspaper editorials.

“Congratulations, @mir_sana05!” the ICC tweeted, as Pakistan’s English-language dailies published editorials on Tuesday celebrating the feat in a patriarchal country where women’s sport has long been marginalized.

“Kudos to you girl!” tweeted the German embassy in Islamabad. “Makes us all proud,” added Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.N.

Mir recalled the obstacles against her in an interview published by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). “The journey started by proving at every street, where I played cricket, that girls could play this sport. We didn’t have any role models, girls taking part in cricket was not that common,” she was quoted as saying. “From street cricket to playing on the grounds and moving to stadia donning the Pakistan kit were moments of immense pride.”

Former Pakistan captain and current chief selector Urooj Mumtaz congratulated her former colleague, calling her an inspiration for women. “Sana has been a great role model for our cricket, in fact, world cricket, her hard work, dedication and humility is absolutely admirable,” said Mumtaz.

The pride was underscored as former Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi batted away accusations of misogyny as critics lashed out at the cricket star’s admission in his autobiography Game Changer that he refuses to let his daughters play outdoor sports. “The feminists can say what they want; as a conservative Pakistani father, I’ve made my decision,” he wrote in the book, unleashing the fury of many Pakistanis. Afridi later tweeted his congratulations to Mir, prompting further accusations of hypocrisy.

Mir took six wickets, including a match-winning 4-11, in three one-day internationals against South Africa to help Pakistan square the series 1-1, with one match tied. She is now third on the all-time list of most successful bowlers in women’s cricket, behind fast bowlers Jhulan Goswami of India (218) and Australia’s Cathryn Fitzpatrick (180).

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