Photo Credit: ICC
You know you are special when Ellyse Perry is copying your action and Mel Jones says you ‘put the bang in Bangladesh’.
Yet that is the whirlwind rise that 18-year-old pace bowler Marufa Akter has been on during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.
On 14 January, Marufa was part of the Bangladesh Under-19 side that pulled off an upset against Australia in the first match of the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup.
That day she took two for 29 from her four overs to restrict Australia to 130 for five, which Bangladesh’s batters chased down with two overs to spare.
Exactly a month later, Marufa was facing the senior Australian side and showing no sign of fear she dismissed Beth Mooney, the second-best batter in the world, for two.
She runs in with arms and legs pumping and whirring into a blur, her face full of steely determination.
It is that determination that Perry copied as she sat in the Australia dugout, and it may not be long before we see other bowlers copying her celebration too.
As she claims a scalp, Marufa kisses her hands and raises them to the sky and it looks as if she is thanking a higher power.
It is not outside of the realm of possibility that this is exactly what she is doing following a journey to the World Cup stage which feels like it has involved some divine intervention.
Growing up in rural Bangladesh, Marufa had to fight for the opportunity to play cricket.
“First of all, my family was not very supportive because my father is a farmer so he actually wanted me to get a normal job,” Marufa explained.
“But day by day when I started doing well, my family actually started supporting me very much.”
Moving to the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan, the national sports institute, she began to believe.
She added: “I worked very hard during those days. I didn’t think I was a good bowler but my coaches, Madam Fatima and Mr Pilu, taught me.
“I want to thank them for giving me, coming from a rural area, the opportunity to play for the national side.”
Her celebration was seen three times against Sri Lanka in their World Cup opener as she announced herself on the global stage.
Marufa’s first victim was the skipper, Chamari Athapaththu, who had grown frustrated at not being given a sniff by the young seamer and in the end, sent a simple catch to Lata Mondal.
Vishmi Gunaratne was Marufa’s next wicket, as she took the catch off her own bowling before a peach of a delivery undid Anushka Sanjeewani as her off-stump went tumbling with the very next ball.
Against New Zealand, Marufa did not reach the same heights, and she is yet to bowl her side to a victory, but it feels like it is only a matter of time.
She has only last opportunity in this World Cup against the hosts South Africa on Tuesday but win or lose, by the next World Cup, Perry will not be the only one copying her action.