It was almost evening. The celebration of Bangladesh Women team’s sensational tie an hour ago was still going on. The scream of euphoria and joy from the dressing room of the Bangladesh team was being heard at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. Amid the background Marufa Akhter talked with Prothom Alo. She was brimming with childlike ecstasy. She seemed yet to realise what she had done.
You prevented India from winning the series. How is the feeling?
Alhamdulillah. Our target was to win the trophy as we were playing on our own soil. Had we fielded a little better ... still this is very good.
You left the field injured. Then you came back and bowled the vital last over. What were you thinking then?
When I left, I had said, whatever happens, I shall go back to the field. If I showcase an excellent fielding or take a catch it will benefit the team. I did that. And when I came to bowl the last over, a determination was gripping inside. Three runs, I can do this (defend). I held the belief I would do this. I bowled according to that belief.
You took nine wickets in six matches - three T20s and three ODIs. You were also the highest wicket taker in ODIs. Are you feeling great?
When I am doing well, it feels great in every aspect. I feel great while I watch the videos of bowling.
Things have changed a lot in the last six-seven months. You played in the U-19 World Cup. Then you got a quick call up in the national side. You are also doing well...
I have come thus far for my performance. Had I done bad, I could not have come thus far. I am being rewarded for my hard work. BCB is also helping me. The mentors of the women's wing, Tauhid sir and others help me a lot.
Your skipper Nigar Sultana says you do not know what pressure is.
It is of no use recalling the past (smile). Whatever I will do now shall happen. If I get disappointed recalling the past, it will be of no use. So, I do not take pressure.
Come to your bowling. Do you have any story behind your athletic run-up?
I had been running during my childhood. I used to play a lot of football at my village school. And from childhood I have been like this.
How did you come to cricket from football?
My brother said there is risk in football. As a result, when I grew a little bigger, I started playing tape tennis with my elder brothers.
Whose bowling do you like?
The running of Mitchell Starc is excellent. As he does on the running, it looks great.
Your runup is also like that
How do you do the inswing?
It comes naturally. Natural swing ... my swing is good.
Have you ever noticed how the release creates the swing?
Not really. It happens naturally.
Smriti Mandhana praised you a lot? Did you talk to her?
She shook hands with me. She went away but returned to tell me best of luck. 'Your fielding is good, you have tremendous energy, you are very quick, bowling is very good. You hold all of these; you will go a long way.'
You used to help your father in his agricultural work during the Coronavirus pandemic in Nilphamari. Your family must be proud that you have come so far from there in such a quick time?
Now everybody supports me a lot. My father did not understand the game. But now, even when he phones me, he says, “whenever you bowl, aim for the legs.” As he doesn’t understand, he tells me, ‘’ aim at the legs, sometimes bowl slowly.” When he says such things, I feel so great (smile).
* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Syed Faiz Ahmed