The Windies team landed in Karachi to a grand welcome. On Thursday, the two teams will face-off in the first of three T20Is, formalising the return of international women’s cricket to a country where cricket is not just seen as a sport, but a passion. The T20Is will be held on January 31, February 1 and February 3.
Bismah Maroof returns as skipper and her performance with the bat, alongside Javeria Khan’s will be absolutely imperative for Pakistan. Over time, these two batters have proven to be the most consistent. However, they will need support from their others to ensure the team’s success; youngster Omaima Sohail will be an important player. With the T20 game developing rapidly, Sohail showed glimpses of how aggressive she can be in her maiden international series against Australia. She played the ‘fearless’ brand of cricket that is now required for teams to compete with the best. Pakistan will be hoping she comes out with all guns blazing to take on the Windies attack.
With the ball, Nida Dar will be of great use to Pakistan. The ninth ranked T20I bowler will be eager to do well at home, and brings experience to a relatively young squad. She also showed during the T20 World Cup that she has potential to deliver with the bat, and will be looking to shine as an all-rounder.
For the Windies, Merissa Aguilliera will be the stand-in skipper in Stafanie Taylor’s absence. She will need to lead from the front to lift her squad, as they will be without two of their star players; Taylor and opener Hayley Matthews, who is recovering from an injury she sustained at the beginning of WBBL04.
She will also need support from veterans Deandra Dottin and Anisa Mohammed. Dottin, a destructive all-rounder, who has two T20I centuries to her name, will be key for the Windies with bat and ball. She said her goal was to add another century to her name during the T20 World Cup, which she was unable to do. She will no doubt be pursuing that feat against Pakistan. She poses a major threat to her opponents and Pakistan will be wary of her. In Pakistan’s spin-friendly conditions, the leading wicket-taker in T20Is, Anisa, who is one short of her 100th appearance in the format, will also play a big role in contributing to the team’s success. She has an uncanny knack for taking wickets when they are most needed. After sitting out of some of Windies T20 World Cup matches as well, Mohammed will be looking to regain her position in the squad, by showing just why she has the most wickets to her name.
Point of Contention
This series signals international cricket’s return to Pakistan, for the women’s team and they would want nothing more than to win. It would be the perfect welcome. However, in the Windies, they will find a tough opponent. Having surrendered their T20 crown to Australia, on home soil, the Windies will come into this series with a point to prove. They will want to win the series at all costs, but then again, so would Pakistan. This tension makes the series all the more intriguing and exciting.
For Pakistan, this series is important in terms of cricket coming home, but also for paying tribute to the pioneers of the game. Sana Mir expressed this in simple words, saying this series will be “a very emotional series as not only will we be celebrating the (arrival of) 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.”
Pakistan: Bismah Maroof (capt), 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
West Indies: Merissa Aguilleira (capt/wk), Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry, Kycia Knight, Natasha McClean, Anisa Mohammed, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman, Rashada Williams