Exclusive: We have inspired people in Pakistan to change their mindset about women's cricket, says Nida Dar

The all-rounder says she didn't even know Pakistan had a women's team when she started playing. Now a lot of girls look at cricket as a career option


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Pakistan captain Nida Dar. — ICC Twitter
Pakistan captain Nida Dar. — ICC Twitter

Published: Wed 17 May 2023, 2:37 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 May 2023, 7:18 PM

From playing street cricket in Pakistan to bringing about a revolution in the women’s sport in her country, Nida Dar's is a story that stirs the soul.

It's a story that narrates the triumph of the human spirit — a girl who fought the prejudices in society to become a role model for the young generation that now aspires to break the glass ceiling.

As a child, Dar was forced to overcome a myriad obstacles just to play cricket with her friends in the neighbourhood.

Eventually, she went on to play on the world stage and also became the first Pakistani bowler — and the sixth overall — to take 100 wickets in women’s T20 internationals.

Remarkably, this 36-year-old all-rounder had no idea that her country even had a women’s cricket team when she first started playing the sport for fun.

“When I look back now, it fills me with happiness and pride because when I first started to play, I just played the game for fun,” Dar told the Khaleej Times while attending a session with aspiring cricketers of Mentors Academy at the GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai.

“When I was small, I just wanted to go out there and enjoy the game. I did not even know that Pakistan had a women's cricket team.

"For me it was all about playing cricket for fun. I just wanted to play and play every day. I was in love with cricket.”

Rashid Hassan was the reason she fell in love with cricket.

“He is my father and he played first class cricket in Pakistan, so I was inspired by him to play cricket,” Dar said.

But Dar soon realised that for most girls in Pakistan at that time, the road to the cricket grounds was littered with challenges.

"For a girl those days, it was not easy to play cricket in the locality. There were so many challenges," she recalled.

“My father was supportive, but not my brother. He was not mentally ready to see his sister play cricket even though he was good at sports himself. Sports for him was not for girls!”

Nida Dar makes a point while speaking to Khaleej Times. — M Sajjad
Nida Dar makes a point while speaking to Khaleej Times. — M Sajjad

But Dar never stopped chasing her dreams and her perseverance eventually propelled her to first class cricket where her consistent performances caught the attention of national selectors.

Dar's big day arrived on May 6, 2010, when she made her international debut. In these 13 years at the highest level, she has earned 217 wickets and more than 3,500 runs in 229 international matches.

She also captains the Pakistan team now.

Dar says women's cricket in Pakistan is in a far better place now than it was when she started her career more than 15 years ago.

"I think the life changing moment came at the 2010 Asian Games when we won the gold medal. I think that was the turning point not just for me, but for women's cricket in Pakistan," she said.

"Now, the success that we have had over the years has inspired a lot of girls in Pakistan to play cricket.

"Of course, a lot of credit should also go to the Pakistan Cricket Board. They have taken a lot of steps to build an environment where girls can now look at cricket as a career option.

"Yes, there is still a long way to go, but it's amazing how far we have come!"

Apart from her father, Dar's other childhood hero was Shahid Afridi, the man they called "Boom Boom Afridi" for his legendary six-hitting skills.

Now they call Dar the "Lady Boom Boom" for her flamboyant batting skills.

"Shahid Afridi was my hero because I was an all-rounder and I always looked up to him," she said.

"Now they call me the Shahid Afridi of Pakistan's women's cricket. It makes me so happy."

Dar then reveals what makes her even happier.

"Of course, what we have done as a team over the years makes me happier," she said.

"I think we have inspired a lot of girls to play cricket in Pakistan, we have inspired a lot of people to change their mindset about women in sports. I think that is our biggest victory."


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