There were many reasons to remember the 2017 ICC Women’s ODI World Cup, one of which was that it was a game changer for the women’s sport, which even today, meets raised brows and biased glances.
All of which is a shame because the 2017 Women’s World Cup was in more ways than one a harbinger of change and an event so popular that it, once again, reminded the world that the prowess of the Big 3- England, India or Australia- wasn’t just limited to the men’s game.
While on the one hand, a certain Dane van Niekerk took remarkable figures of 4 wickets without even conceding one run (a magical spell against the West Indies), there was Harmanpreet Kaur’s brave 171 not out. The latter actually prompted several girls to pick the cricket bat in tiny bless indian villages that few visit and even fewer know the names of.
That Harmanpreet’s powerful one-woman show of bowlers came against the mighty Southern Stars was perhaps most fitting.
Likewise, the coveted 2017 ICC women’s ODI World Cup final saw the great Anya Shrubsole bowling like one; the right arm medium fast was about as dangerous with the seam bowling as she was hard to score off. The Indians were a living proof. Similarly, Tasmin Beaumont was lethal with the bat in that she blazed a trial for many to follow.
But was that all that there was about that World Cup? Truth be told, there was also a certain Nashra Sandhu who spun magic with her slow left arm orthodox spin that made life a living hell for several batters around her.
As a matter of factly, Lahore’s daughter and one of Pakistan’s reason to smile in international cricket, Nashra Sandhu took the most wickets taken by any Pakistan spinner in that particular series.
Lest it is forgotten, Nashra Sandhu’s best bowling figures in one day international cricket happen to be 4 for 26, a feat she earned over six years back in the day against an opponent Pakistan can’t forget nor can world cricket take any lightly: India.
On July 2, 2017 at Derby, Nashra was the jockey you’d have placed your bets on to succeed and boy, did she not?
Each of her four dismissals were big wickets of an opposition camp that’s as powerful as it is respected in the women’s game. That’s whether we talk of Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav, the legendary Jhulan Goswami and, none other than, a batting icon called Mithalj Raj.
But rather interestingly, Nashra made it count on on a track that was hard, if not impossible, to score off.
That she picked regular wickets wasn’t just a commanding effort against a lanky opponent in the form of India, but that she made stalwarts like Mithali struggle and hugely experienced batters like Punam Raut buckle down in run scoring made Pakistan hold the upper hand in, at least an inning.
Nashra was all of 20 when she spun India into a web and that too, in a World Cup contest with millions watching closely.
Alas, a shoddy batting effort that saw Pakistan getting bundled out for 74 in their pursuit of 170 was a letdown that may still hurt them somewhere.
But on her part, Nashra Sandhu shone brightly just as she does today.
Very recently, the thinking cricketer who doesn’t speak a lot and lets her actions compensate for the talking made another bright news.
As of November 21, 2023- one of the finest spin talents to have come from a land known for express fast bowlers- stands next to 52 T20 international cricket.
What’s more? It’s taken one of the most talented and competitive cricketers in the women’s world just 49 innings to get that far.
To give an idea of just how economical she is with the white ball, Nashra Sandhu’s T20I bowling economy is a numeric arrangement that would inspire envy from any team, irrespective of whether England, India, Proteas and Australia.
With a T20I economy of 5.37, this thinking spinner has formed a career that’s based on doing the basics right – such as avoiding extras and maintaining pressure while dot ball accumulation.
In an age where T20 cricketers are no longer cultivating their talent but seemingly content at sending fielders on a leather hunt, Sandhu is hunting for the next big improvement in her game.
Not a garrulous taker , not a dud when the mic comes forward, Nashra Sandhu walks this very dignified path of life with little is spent on anything other than Pakistan’s victory.
And there’s little doubt that Pakistan will rule the roost especially since the post-Sana Mir era has seen more bowlers than before; for a country that’s given world cricket names like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, and now, Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi, Nashra Sandhu’s growing graph suggests Pakistan are in now way lurking in mediocrity in the bowling department.
On the contrary, the bigger the format of the game, the more competitive does Nashra becomes.
While her T20I bowling economy is a miserly 5.3, in one day international cricket, she pulls the economy further down to a very telling 4.2. In so doing, one of Pakistan’s most promising members has a bowling trajectory that makes batswomen shudder in doubt akin to having faded a stock market breakdown.
But for all the right reasons, Nashra Sandhu is worth placing one’s bets on where it comes to identifying cricketers who’ll author the next era of Pakistan white ball cricket.
It’s such a pity that many women’s teams don’t get to play Test cricket at all, as if the right to play cricket’s purest format was reserved exclusively for an elite lot and not for the cricketing collective that has a bright star that twinkles gently. The one that’s called Nashra Sandhu.
At 26, with 108 caps for Pakistan, Nashra Sandhu, who once played as a kid with her family members today excels on the global playground.
She’s known. She’s already been seen plotting the downfall of one big batter too many.
It’s a playground where nothing ever comes easy and where Pakistan often find themselves challenged by stronger opponents who attack and defend with gusto.
But for as long as thinking before acting on the 22 yards will concern itself with Pakistan, the team and its fans will always come to regard Nashra Sandhu, who is as intelligent as she is capable. A force in the works that can break concentration and with it, the heavily fortified defences of batswomen.
image– Twitter/ X