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Bismah Mahroof of Pakistan bats during the ICC Women's World T20 2018 match between India and Pakistan at Guyana National Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Providence, Guyana.
Womens World T20

'Couldn't imagine that I'd play cricket again' – Bismah Maroof

Pakistan Women, WT20, interview

Bismah Maroof’s personal highest score against India came in a losing cause. Yet, in some ways, just her being in the middle was a victory.

In July, while at practice, Maroof, then Pakistan Women’s captain, found the vision in her right eye getting blurry. She was also struggling with a severe sinus attack – the first time such a thing had struck her down.

She was rushed to a medical facility for CT scans, and a couple of days later, doctors told her she needed sudden and urgent surgery.

Maroof was worried. The ICC Women’s World T20 2018 was only a few months away, and there were important clashes before that. Would she be prepared in time? Pray for me, she told her fans in a Twitter note before going in to surgery. 

Video cwc19 11 Nov 18
IND v PAK: Highlights of Bismah Maroof's 53

The procedure to treat her sinus went on for four hours. Since her condition was related to the brain, doctors had suggested it could get life-threatening. Fortunately, it went on well; the bigger problem was what came after.

“It was quite challenging,” Maroof told the ICC about her time on the sidelines. “After the surgery I was on a high dosage of medicines. My eyes got affected, so it took time for me to return to playing.”

"I have learnt that you shouldn’t plan too much"

With the complications, doctors in fact told her she couldn’t play cricket. “I was quite depressed.

“Lying there, at one point I couldn’t imagine that I could get up and play again. But they say that whatever plan is made for you is for the good.”

Maroof powered through the recovery, banking on friends, family and the religious books she enjoys reading to help her deal with the stress. She got some game time against Australia in Malaysia in October and once the doctors signed off on it, she was ready to be part of another world tournament.

Playing against rivals India on Sunday, 11 November, at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, seemed to bring out the best in her. The heat triggered a case of the cramps and she needed attention, but was determined to see the game through.

Showing her intent early on with a sweep for four, the left-hander cleverly moved in her crease to nullify the Indians’ plans to bowl wide outside off or danced down the pitch to take on the spinners. The sweetest of scoops over her right shoulder took her close to the half-century, and she went on to make 53 off 49 balls.

Video cwc19 11 Nov 18
IND v PAK: Maroof claims the wicket of Smriti Mandhana

 The 93 she added with Nida Dar was a national record for the fourth-wicket stand.

Maroof is no longer Pakistan captain. “It’s important now to prioritise my health. It has been a stressful time,” she said. But she’s keen to take the lead when it counts for her team.

The illness has given her new perspective, and she’s seizing the moment. “I have learnt that you shouldn’t plan too much,” she laughs. “All your life plans can be turned upside down. So I will not plan again!”