Before her sides departure for an eight-match tour of South Africa, Pakistan’s captain Bismah Maroof gave an interview to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). In it, she emphasized upon her confidence in her teams ability to defeat the hosts in the three ODIs and five T20 they are scheduled to play.
In preparation for the tour, a two-week camp had been set up for the national squad in Karachi. Maroof commented on the diligence shown by her teammates during the camp saying, “We have worked hard in the training camp, which has been a great success since we spent considerable time on our all-round (batting and bowling) skills.”
With points for the ICC Women’s Championship on the line during the ODIs, Maroof expressed how it was her teams’ and the managements top priority that they win the series. The top four teams, along with the hosts for the next Women’s World Cup in 2021, New Zealand, earn direct qualification to the landmark event. Currently, Pakistan are ranked sixth with 12 points to their name, trailing their opponents South Africa by one point. She elaborated on how the small difference between the two sides will make the series more competitive noting, “Both South Africa and Pakistan are going to fight hard for the ICC Women’s Championship points. They currently have a one-point advantage over us, which we can overcome by winning the series. Both teams are evenly matched and the points table situation will make the series even more exciting.”
Having just completed a historic ODI series victory over the West Indies, the Pakistani camp will be in high spirits and ready to face the challenge South Africa will pose. In light of their recent success, Pakistan go into the series with a largely unchanged squad. A major blow they have been dealt though, is pacer Diana Baig’s injury, which has ruled her out of the series. Replacing her is teenage quick Fatima Sana. “Other than Diana Baig, who suffered an unfortunate injury at the start of the camp, the core of the team that beat the Windies has been retained. The team management and I have a lot of confidence in the proven abilities of Sana Mir, Nida Dar, Sidra Amin, Javeria Khan, Nashra Sandhu and Aliya Riaz, who have done very well for us in the recent past.
“The other squad members are also equally capable. Newcomer Fatima Sana, who has replaced Diana in the side, has also shown a lot of promise at the camp, which is another heartening sign,” said the world’s 31st ranked batter.
While the ODI series will be vital for ICC WC points, the T20 series will serve as preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup. The event is slated to be held in Australia in February-March of 2020, so is less than a year away. Bismah Maroof acknowledged the importance of the T20s saying, “The T20I series is, of course, also important to us keeping in mind the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Australia 2020. Five matches against a formidable side like South Africa gives us the opportunity of providing more exposure to our players as we develop our team for the Australian conditions.
“The pitches in South Africa will almost be similar to what we will confront in Australia, hence, playing a five-match T20I series is a huge boost for us.”
Pakistan has struggled in T20s recently, losing a closely fought series to West Indies on home soil. Before that, they were knocked out of the ICC Women’s World T20, 2018 in the group stages, winning just one match against Ireland. However, batters have shown marked improvement in the power-hitting department which the side will be looking to work on further.
A personal milestone is also on the cards for 27-year-old Maroof. With 95 T20s already under her belt, if she plays the five scheduled ones in this series, she will become just the second Pakistani woman, and sixth woman overall to play 100 T20s, Sana Mir being the only other Pakistani. Others on the list are New Zealand’s Suzie Bates (111), West Indies’ Anisa Mohammad (102) and Deandra Dottin (110), Australia’s Ellyse Perry (102) and England’s Jenny Gunn (104).
ODI: Bismah Maroof (captain); Aiman Anwar; Aliya Riaz; Fatima Sana; Javeria Wadood Khan; Jaweria Rauf; Kainat Imtiaz; Nahida Khan; Nashra Sundhu; Nida Dar; Rameen Shamim; Sana Mir; Sidra Amin; Sidra Nawaz (wicketkeeper); Omaima Sohail
T20I: Bismah Maroof (captain); Aiman Anwar; Aliya Riaz; Fatima Sana; Iram Javed; Javeria Wadood Khan; Jaweria Rauf; Kainat Imtiaz; Nashra Sundhu; Nida Dar; Rameen Shamim; Sana Mir; Sidra Amin; Sidra Nawaz (wicketkeeper); Omaima Sohail