Bismah Maroof (R) and Chamari Athapaththu (L) pose with the trophy on a boat overlooking Arabian Sea in Karachi. PBC Twitter photo
The Pakistan women’s team has now entered a rebuilding phase and a new “brand” of cricket is what they are looking forward to adapt as they kick off what is going to be a jam-packed season with a three-match Twenty20 series against a visiting Sri Lankan side at the Southend Club.
Both teams have so far played 13 T20Is against each other and have an even record with six wins apiece apart from one match turning out to be no result.
After losing six out of their seven matches at the 50-over showpiece Pakistan identified they were lagging behind when it came to hitting the ball hard to score big while fitness also came into question.
“Though we are already working on fitness and improving as well but I think more work needs to be done,” Bismah Maroof said during the pre-match press conference. “Power hitting, especially, is a department in which international players are better than us and it`s an area that we need to improve in.”
Pakistan have uncapped duo of wicketkeeper-batter Gull Feroza and leg-spinner Tuba Hassan as newbies in the T20I squad.
Bismah Maroof (L) and Chamari Athapaththu pose with the trophy on a boat overlooking Arabian Seai. PBC Twitter photo
"We have an exciting squad in place for both formats (T20 and ODIs). The newcomers in the two squads have a great chance of proving their worth when they get a chance to play. It is always exciting to play an international series in Pakistan and such occasions always motivate us to do well and inspire the fans," said Maroof on the eve of the series.
The last time these two sides faced off in a T20I bilateral series, Pakistan came out on top with 2-1 margin. Tuesday's match will be the first T20I between the two sides in Pakistan in what is Sri Lanka women's first tour to Pakistan in more than 16 years.
"We are looking forward to an exciting series with Sri Lanka. After the World Cup we will start afresh with an aim of winning both T20I and ODI series. We have a packed schedule this year and this series will help us prepare for the challenges ahead especially the Commonwealth Games," added Maroof.
The three T20Is will be followed by three ICC Women's Championship ODI fixtures amidst a heatwave in Pakistan. "I think we will have a good contest as Sri Lanka are a formidable opponent especially in Asian conditions. The hot weather will be a challenge but as professional players we would endeavour to overcome the challenge," observed Maroof.
Sri Lanka touring Pakistan will be the side's first major international tour after the women's T20 World Cup in 2020 in Australia. "We are excited to play a strong Pakistan team in its backyard. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have always enjoyed friendly relations and I am confident the series will be played in good spirit," said skipper Chamari Athapaththu.
Just like Maroof, Athapaththu admitted that the scorching weather will provide a challenge for her team to play well. "The weather is hot and humid and it will test us but at the same time it will provide us an opportunity of testing our skills in challenging conditions."
Pakistan T20I squad: Bismah Maroof (captain), Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Gull Feroza (wicketkeeper), Iram Javed, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui (wicketkeeper), Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal and Tuba Hassan.
Sri Lanka T20I squad: Chamari Athapaththu (captain), Achini Kulasuriya, Ama Kanchana, Anushka Sanjeewani, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Hasini Perera, Imesha Dulani, Inoka Ranaweera, Kavisha Dilhari, Nilakshi de Silva, Oshadhi Ranasinghe, Prasadani Weerakkody, Sachini Nisansala, and Sugandika Kumari.
The decision forced Maroof to deliberate over her participation in the event, which is to be held from July 25 to August 8 in Birmingham.
Pakistan appeared to be cruising to victory, powered by a maiden century for Sidra Ameen, but slumped to a nine-run defeat after losing six wickets for 26 runs.
It was the final match of the tournament for both sides, and although New Zealand hold a mathematical chance of making the semi-finals, captain Sophie Devine said that was most unlikely and it was a "bittersweet" win to bow out on.
Over the weekend, several clerics and a group of elders in the Charbagh tehsil had prevented the girls from playing cricket. They had called women’s participation in sports “immoral.”
The UAE show jumping team clinched the bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games, the nation’s first Asian Games team medal since 2010, solidifying its position as a dominant force in the sport.
A unique 2030 World Cup is set to be played in Europe and Africa with the surprising addition of South America in a deal to allow the men’s soccer tournament to start with a 100th birthday party in Uruguay.