Bismah Maroof in action for Pakistan. ©ICC

Pakistan’s 15 person squad for the World Twenty-20 did not include their regular captain Bismah Maroof. Nearly a month before Pakistan’s tour of Bangladesh, Maroof had to undergo surgery for her sinus. She missed out on that tour and was subsequently ruled out of their series against Australia as well. It was however probable that she would recover in time to captain the team in the World Twenty-20. Women’s CricZone has learnt from a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official that Maroof is “still recovering” but,  is “not out” of the tournament yet. If she recovers and is fit to play in time for the tournament, she surely will.

Should Maroof not recover in time, her absence from the squad will be a huge blow to Pakistan. At Number 16, she is Pakistan’s highest ranked Twenty-20 batter and third highest ranked all-rounder, occupying the 20th spot. In the 86 Twenty-20 Internationals she has played for Pakistan, she has scored 1607 runs at an average of 25.50 and a strike rate of 89.22.

Since November 2017, Bismah Maroof has scored 256 runs in 12 innings, making her the third highest run scorer in that time frame for Pakistan. The two batters ahead of her have played three more innings than she has. This goes to show how valuable Maroof’s contribution is for a side that has struggled for consistency. Over time, Maroof has moulded herself into a player that can anchor an innings, but also score at a fast pace when needed. With Pakistan still suffering collapses in the batting order, Maroof will be missed for her role as anchor. Her ability to score rapidly will leave a gap in the batting order too as, none of Pakistan’s other batters are known for their boundary hitting abilities.

If she does not recover in time, the position of captain will be vacant too. Maroof took over from Sana Mir after Pakistan’s horror 2017 World Cup campaign. Under her, the team has achieved some success, defeating New Zealand for the first time in an ODI and whitewashing the ODI series against Sri Lanka. It still remains to be determined who will take over the reins if Maroof cannot play. One option is Javeria Khan, who captained the team against Bangladesh and will do the same against Australia. The other is Mir, who has plenty of experience leading the side and is arguably better suited to captain the team in a major tournament.

Pakistan will be hanging on to the hope that Maroof recovers soon and can play in the World Twenty-20. She is an imperative part of the squad. Her consistent contributions have often been the deciding factor in Pakistan’s matches and in marquee tournaments like the World Twenty-20, you need to put your best team forward. Unfortunately for Pakistan, their best team is not complete without Maroof.

(According to ICC regulations, team changes can take place till November 2 without the involvement of the ICC technical committee)

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