'One of the toughest tours I've played in' - Mir
All through the last week, Sana Mir hadn't been her usual, jovial self. One could sense that the Pakistan captain was feeling a bit insecure. Her team's failures in the Women's World Cup, combined with the political drama that threatened Pakistan's participation in the marquee event seemed to be taking its toll.
When Mir walked in to the enclosure after Pakistan's loss to India in the seventh place play-off in what was to be her last media appearance, she was looking relaxed for a change. The smile was back, by her own admission, due to curtains falling over what was a "tense" tour.
"Yes [I am relieved]. I can say that now because it was one of the toughest tours I have ever played in. Everything - like my own performance, my team's performance and the whole situation - it was one of the toughest tournaments," Mir said.
"It's[a] mixed [feeling]. It has been tough. But we have seen a lot of people supporting us, especially all the people at the Orissa Cricket Association (OCA) Academy and the OCA staff in the dressing room. They all have helped us a lot. Overall, it was a tense tournament for the Pakistan team but still we managed to do it and for some reason it's good that we are going home now."
Nothing had gone Pakistan's way during their two weeks' stay in Cuttack. They were confined to the Barabati Stadium due to security reasons. They lost one of their warm-up games against an OCA XI. And most importantly, their batting failures resulted in three successive comprehensive defeats in the league stage. Against India, their batsmen fared better by posting 192, but it wasn't enough.
"Obviously it would have been good if we finished on a high note but still I am happy with the way the batters stood up today because they were under a lot of pressure. I think putting [up] a good score on the board against the Indian side must give them some positives and they can work harder for the next [assignment]," Mir said.
After such a poor run, it would have been hard for any team to take the field for a match to determine the last place. But the fact that Pakistan were up against arch rivals India made it easier for Mir and the coaching staff. "I would say that as it was against India, I didn't have to motivate any player. Had it been against any other team, I would have had to lift the girls a lot.
"They always look forward to playing against India, because we don't get to play too many games against them. They were motivated and they showed it in the ground today," Mir said.
Mir drew positives in the "bowlers' performances", and also hoped for more international matches against better teams in future. "I think we have arranged for some tournaments in June and I hope before that we will get to play some matches. We have got two one-dayers and two T20s with England and then Ireland before we play the World T20 qualifiers. But we would like to have some more T20 internationals before we go to the qualifiers," she said.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo