Indian batter Smriti Mandhana and Bangladesh pacer Marufa AkterShamsul Hoque

Bangladesh women’s team is mostly known for having a potent spin attack. But in the ongoing series against India, the bowler who has grabbed the spotlight is the young 18-year-old pacer Marufa Akter.

Marufa was the player of the match in the first One-Day International (ODI) of the series where she took 4-29 to help Bangladesh register their maiden ODI win against India.

In the following ODI and in the preceding Twenty20 series, Marufa impressed with her smooth run up, lethal in-swingers and the ability to extract movement off the pitch.

Bangladesh and India women’s team will face off in the final game of the three-match ODI series in Dhaka on Saturday with the series at stake. On Friday, in the pre-match press conference, India’s star batter Smriti Mandhana sang praises of Marufa, prophesised that the right-arm pacer will be huge star in Bangladesh cricket in the future.

Bangladesh pacer Marufa Akter

“It doesn’t matter what her age is. The kind of effort she is putting on the field, just to watch her with the kind of fire she has in her to be a good cricketer has been just amazing. I’m sure she is going to be an amazing cricketer going forward for Bangladesh team,” Mandhana said.

The pitches so far in the series have been more conducive to spin bowling. This was done to help the Bangladesh spinners against a strong Indian batting line-up. But even on spin friendly pitches, Marufa has found a way to trouble the batters.

Seeing Marufa excel on low and slow pitches at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, Mandhana said she is waiting to see what Marufa can do pace-friendly pitches in Australia and England.

Smriti Mandhana speaks at the pre-match press conference
Prothom Alo

“I think she has a very different action. I think for her action, I think she is quicker than we feel she is. Her ball definitely skids a bit more than what we expect from her release point. She is a very good cricketer I would say… Definitely, these sorts of wickets (in Dhaka) are not helping her much. We’ll have to see what she does in England and Australia.”

Marufa’s journey to the national team has been inspirational. From working on crop fields with her father during the Covid-19 pandemic, to then doing well in the Under-19 World Cup and getting selected for the national team, her journey has inspired many, including the Indian women’s cricket team.

“I had a small chat with her post-match, congratulating her and saying that her efforts have really inspired all of us as well,” Mandhana said.