If we can perform as a team, we can do well against anyone: Fahima Khatun
Having made her debut for Bangladesh in 2013 against India, Fahima Khatun has come a long way as an international cricketer. She was part of the 2018 T20 Asia Cup triumph, which was a very significant achievement for Bangladesh and has been credited as a turning point for the women’s team by many of the players involved. She is also the only cricketer from Bangladesh to pick a hat-trick in T20Is.
Now, Bangladesh will be playing their first 50-overs World Cup in New Zealand, and Khatun will be the vice-captain of the team. Women’s CricZone caught up with her in a conversation recently, looking back at the qualification rounds and cricket in Bangladesh.
The match which your team played against Pakistan in the World Cup qualifiers, towards the end it had become a tight contest. What was going through your mind in those last few overs?
First of all, I would thank god because it was an important match for us to win, and to qualify for the World Cup this game was important. In the last over, we were very tense. When I came out to bat and I got out off the first ball, I was very upset. Because I wanted to do something for the team. Everyone was very tense and excited. We were all praying and we were praying a lot. We were praying to Allah, that we get over the line. There was a moment when we got a lot of courage that, yes, maybe we will win.
We knew we would win anyway. God listened to our prayers and we won. I also have to add one thing, whenever we play against Pakistan, before going onto the field, we have a lot of urge to beat them. We speak to each other saying we need to win this game at any cost. That day we had prepared that we were going to win this match. And, we will definitely come out as victorious. The team management had sent a message saying that we have to win this match at any cost. So, by almighty’s grace, we were able to win.
You said that whenever you guys are playing Pakistan, there is always an extra effort to win. Is there any specific reason for that?
You see, normally when we play other teams, we wear the green jersey. But, when we play Pakistan, we have to wear the red jersey. So we wanted that if we win this time against them, we won’t wear the red jersey. We have always felt, why should we wear the red one and not wear a jersey of our choice. That is the sole reason why we are always pumped up when we play Pakistan.
This year your team is going to play the World Cup. It is the first time that your country will take part in the 50 over World Cup. How do you feel personally and as a team considering the fact that there has been a struggle for so many years?
Firstly, I would like to say that we have been talking about this, that it was our dream to play in a World Cup. So after the dream, the fact that we have been able to achieve it makes us want to perform well in this World Cup. I believe as a team we are very good, going by our skills and strengths. We are able to utilize it, we will get a better result in the end. If we are able to achieve this, it will be good for our Bangladesh cricket.
The first time your team played in a World Cup, it was in the T20 format in Bangladesh. Then once in India, then in the West Indies and then in Australia. This is the first time Bangladesh is playing the 50 over World Cup, so I want to know how growth has been seen in Bangladesh. How much has the game developed within the country? How popular has it become among the people in Bangladesh? Lastly, how can this World Cup change things?
I agree with you that Bangladesh cricket has developed a lot after qualifying for this World Cup. Our perception has changed slightly. We didn’t have age level cricket in Bangladesh for women. But recently U19, U17 teams have been there. So, we are trying to move toward one step at a time. Bangladesh Cricket Board has also kept women’s cricket under their observation. On this World Cup qualification, we have played T20 World Cups, almost four of those T20 World cups we have played, even though we don’t have enough experience of playing in ODI cricket. I believe if we are able to perform as a team, then we can be a good team in ODI. This World Cup, we will try that itself, how we can perform well and take Bangladesh cricket to the heights in this World Cup. If we do well, cricket back home will also develop.
One thing I would like to know is that your team has played a lot of cricket in the last few years. But not against the big oppositions, like India, Australia and England. Your team hasn’t played a lot against them, so as a team is there a concern or a worry that how will we tackle these teams?
If I say that it is a concern, it will be like bringing out our weakness and showing it. We are not thinking about that. We don’t have experience of playing against the bigger teams, but we have played a few good sides in the last few years. So, I believe that as an ODI team, we are quite good. Because we have all kinds of players. If we look at the strengths of the other teams, we won’t be able to play proper cricket. To play as a good team, we need to do work according to our skills and strengths. If we are able to utilize it, we will be able to put on a good show.
You and your team have landed in New Zealand already and the World Cup is about to begin in a few days. So as a team what goals have you set. I also want to know what your team is expecting for themselves. And what is your own individual goal?
I told you before we dreamt of playing a World Cup and we have been able to achieve it. From this World Cup, we would want to build on this dream and make it even better. And to do that, we need to go through a process and learn how to play better cricket. I believe in playing better cricket. If we are able to play good cricket, perform well, stick to our process and do things according to our plan, we will be able to achieve that. We have kept a goal that we want to perform well as a team. I told you before that we haven’t experienced playing bigger teams, but the truth is, if we are able to perform as a team, we can perform well against any team. At the same time if we play good cricket, results will come our way.
As an individual, I have a big goal and it has been there for a long time. When we had not even qualified, I was thinking this from then on. As an all-rounder, I have played a lot of matches, but there have been times when I wasn’t required to bat, there have been matches where I have bowled less. But, now I have only one target, which is my only wish, my only goal, you can call it a desire. And that is to get into the ICC rankings as an all-rounder. And to be a match-winner for my team. I want to help my team win, it can be with the bowl or with the bat or even by taking an ordinary catch. I want to do that and contribute to my team. That is my dream.