CHENNAI: On 14 March 2022, Pakistan faced Bangladesh in the Women's ODI World Cup for the first time. This thriller between the Asian sides went till the last over, adding to the reputation of the tournament as one of the closest ever.
History was made as Bangladesh won their first-ever World Cup match, while Sidra Amin became the first Pakistani player to score a century at the global event.
As the Bangladeshi camp celebrated their hard-fought win, Sidra walked in to address the media in what could be described as probably the shortest press conference of the tournament. "I would have preferred to win it for my team," the centurion kept repeating with a heartbroken voice.
A year and a half later she still remembers that hollow feeling. "I cried a lot after that match and most of the night," Sidra told The New Indian Express from Karachi. "Trust me, I tried my best to forget about it but I couldn’t take it out of my mind that our team didn’t win that day. I wasn’t even sure how to react," the opener opened her heart.
On Sunday, the batter from Lahore not only smashed her career-best score in T20Is but helped build a foundation for Pakistan's famous T20I series win against South Africa.
Once again Sidra wasn't sure how to react, but this time, it was purely because of jubilation. "All of us were ecstatic that I couldn’t even sleep. (Sealing the series) was a historic moment for all of us and we enjoyed it like anything."
One could hear the joy in her voice. Why wouldn't she be? An ODI specialist, who got her opportunities in the shortest format on the back of her consistency knows the importance of these opportunities to make her mark.
"I used to get selected in the T20I squads, but I could not make the most of those chances in the past. I have been a regular part of the ODI Squad and I used it to build my momentum for the T20Is. I think, I am still learning and there is still room for improvement. For now, I just want to give the best possible start to my team, no matter what the format is," she added.
Keeping her word, Sidra scored 133 runs across three T20Is, the most by any Pakistan batter, including 61 off 44 balls in the second match to help chase down 150-plus totals in both matches.
"150 was kind of a barrier for us. Once we broke that in the first match, when we got a similar target in the second match we were ready for it," she mentioned.
The first series win against the T20 World Cup runners-up too, under the leadership of newly appointed captain, Nida Dar, was sealed with a dominant performance. The skipper celebrated it by giving away a few gifts.
"Nida announced before the series that she will give prizes from her side to those who create those ‘magic moments’, whether it’s a runout or a catch or a moment with the bat or ball. So yesterday, after the game she gave it to me, Aliya, Muneeba, and others," Sidra revealed, adding "she has always been a supportive leader amongst the team."
That kind of support has been the backbone of Sidra's career, starting with her family.
When Ireland visited Pakistan in November 2022, the 31-year-old got the opportunity to play in front of her family in Lahore.
In a series that made her ICC's Player of the Month, Sidra smashed 277 runs across three ODIs, including a century in the first match.
Finally, a century in a winning cause for someone who sees herself as a team player. "I am very proud that my family has supported me from the beginning. When we played against Ireland in Lahore, they all came to watch me play in the series which was honestly life-changing for me. They couldn’t make it to Karachi, but I know their wishes are always with me," said emotional Sidra.
For a side that has a 76.47 winning percentage, Pakistan have only played 17 matches on home soil from 2015 onwards. Sidra believes with the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Ireland travelling to Pakistan, things may change for the better.
"We used to have one match here or there on the home soil in the past. Kudos to PCB and other boards who are making these back-to-back series possible. We are known for our Mehmannawazi. When the players from other countries come here to play, they talk about our hospitality," she hopes.
After bagging the T20I series 3-0, the rejuvenated Pakistan will face South Africa in three ODIs. And it only means one thing. Sidra's best, in this white-ball series, is yet to come.