Bismah Maroof in action for Pakistan. ©ICC

The selection committee of Pakistan’s team announced the squads for Pakistan’s upcoming series with West Indies. The series features three T20Is, held between January 31 and February 3, and as many ODIs, which will be played on January 7, 9 and 11. In a historical tour, cricket returns to Pakistan with the T20Is set to be played in Karachi. Both teams will then travel to Dubai, where the ODIs will be played.

Bismah Maroof returns to her role as captain, taking over the reigns from interim skipper Javeria Khan. She missed Pakistan’s series’ with Bangladesh and Australia due to health issues. While she did take part in the T20 World Cup following those tours, she did not assume the role of skipper, as she thought it would be in the best interest of the team.

Maroof has been a consistent performer for her country, having amassed 2,329 runs in 98 ODIs, while also scoring 1,724 runs in 92 T20Is. Her reliability with the bat makes her an integral part of Pakistan’s squad, while she can also be useful as a part-time bowler with the leg-spin.

Currently, Maroof sits on number 28 in the ODI batters rankings, and number 25 on the all-rounders list. She is also the 18th ranked batter in the shortest format, and occupies the spot of the 20th ranked all-rounder in T20’s too.

After the announcement of the squad, Maroof fronted the media saying, “It’s always a privilege to be appointed captain of your country. But to be named captain in a home series against a tough side like the West Indies, that too when international cricket is making a steady return to Pakistan, is a huge honour.”

“We have a good side, a side that has matured and blossomed in the past few months. I am sure we will put up strong performances across both the formats.”

“I want to thank the West Indies women’s cricket team for agreeing to visit Karachi. This visit will help them see and understand the passion for cricket in Pakistan. We have great friends in the West Indies women’s team, and this relationship and respect will only strengthen now,” Maroof continued.

Joining her, in the national squad, will be the number one ranked ODI bowler Sana Mir, who recently became the first Pakistani woman to achieve this feat. Although her T20I ranking is not particularly impressive in comparison, being 35, her experience is a massive asset to Pakistan.

Additionally, while Pakistan did not have great T20 World Cup campaign, Mir individually had one to remember. The moment she bowled Laura Delany, Ireland’s captain, was voted the Play of the Tournament.

Mir also spoke to the media saying, “This will be a very emotional series as not only will we be celebrating the West Indies’ women’s cricket team to Karachi, but also remembering Sharmeen Khan, one of the pioneers of women’s cricket in Pakistan, who sadly passed away late last month. The thoughts and prayers of the entire side are with the family and friends of Sharmeen Khan.”

“The T20I series against a top country like the West Indies is an opportunity for the young women cricketers as well as the parents to bring their children and help them fall in love with this game. The quality of cricket will be good and I am confident all the spectators will have a good time.”

There is no doubt West Indies will take on a new challenge in Pakistan. The squad will be eager to do well in front of their home crowd, and the selection panel has chosen the best squad they could. J. Khan, Pakistan’s top-ranked batter, at number 14, is part of it. While Aliya Riaz, who seems to have found her footing in international cricket, has also been named. As her up-and-coming batting talent Omaima Sohail, who proved she was ready to don the green when she was named Pakistan’s Player-of-the-Series during her maiden tour against Australia.

Another edge Pakistan will have is that West Indies will be without their star opener Hayley Matthews- who is out due to injury- and skipper Stafanie Taylor, who will not feature in the T20Is. Merissa Aguilliera will take hold of the reins instead. Despite being without these two players, the Windies team will prove to be tough competition, boasting the likes of Deandra Dottin, Anisa Mohammad and Afy Fletcher.

Squads:

ODI: Bismah Maroof (C), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Diana Baig, Irum Javed, Javeria Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Natalia Pervaiz, Nida Dar, Sana Mir, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Omaima Sohail

T20I: Bismah Maroof (C), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Diana Baig, Javeria Khan, Kainat Imtiaz, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Saba Nazir, Nida Dar, Sana Mir, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Omaima Sohail

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