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BANGLADESH'S BIG HITTER: TAJKIA AKHTAR

Tajkia Akhtar, 29, captain of Bangladesh’s Women’s Team, winners of the 2007 ACC Women’s Tournament, speaks about her love for the game and ambitions for her team and country.

How did you start playing cricket?
“There was a big field outside our house (in provincial Dhaka district) when I was growing up and I could see every kind of sport being played there. Thanks to my brothers who were very sporty, I had all the gear for all the sports.”

What made you choose cricket?
“I saw an ODI on DD Sports (Doordarshan, the Indian state broadcaster) in Bangladesh between the West Indies and India when I was about 9 or 10. Viv Richards hit three sixes in a row to win the match! That was it. Cricket was for me. And from then on any day it didn’t rain I would play cricket.”

What did your family think about you playing cricket?
“In the beginning they thought I was just having fun but when they realised how serious I was my parents said, ‘As long as you get a first class then you can play’. So I got the first class and kept playing. I would do well in studies just so that I could play cricket.”

When did you first play seriously with other women?
“In 1998 in Dhaka I played continuously for four months in a BCB Women’s Wing camp and that’s when I knew in comparison to others that I was quite good. I really enjoyed batting. It really seemed like the BCB was taking women’s cricket seriously. The problem was that after this we women didn’t play for two years.”

What’s your style of play?
I started off as an all-rounder, an outswing bowler basically. But in those days the pace bowlers used to just bowl to get the shine off the ball! My highest score is 88 in domestic cricket and my best bowling is 2-2 in two overs.

What happened then?
“Well the cricket was very haphazard, we played a little. Not much, nothing really organised. A lot of those players started jobs and some got married, including me! Last July though the BCB Women’s Wing got active again and this January we started a District League, where the five districts of Bangladesh each have a women’s team. Three months before the ACC tournament the squad have been in a camp in Dhaka.”

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