KARACHI: Despite the country’s chequered record in global cricket competitions, Pakistan women’s side skipper Bismah Maroof on Thursday expressed optimism for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia and expected an improved show from her charges.
Addressing the pre-departure media conference at the National Stadium on Thursday, Bismah sounded confident about the challenges her team will face at the Feb 21-March 8 showpiece Down Under.
“The main difference that I can say here is that we had far more extensive practice sessions here as part of the preparations for the [T20] World Cup compared to the past occasions,” the 28-year-old opening batter from Lahore said. “Moreover, we are going early [to Australia] to get acclimatize to the conditions. We will be playing two practice games as well as against the West Indies in the build-up to the mega event.
“So definitely there will be no shortage of effort from our team in terms of preparations this time because we put specific emphasis on each segment of T20 cricket.”
Bismah observed the major difference is the composition of the squad. “I’m very excited at leading a bunch of experienced and young players. They have really worked very hard to get selected and definitely there is improvement in their overall game.
Women’s squad off to Australia for global event
“As a unit we have learnt to take responsibilities because there is clarity over the role defined for each player in the squad. This is the reason why Pakistan had a good run over the past year or so in this format.
“Having said that I’ll not say we are as good as the top sides [Australia, West Indies, England, India and England] but in T20 cricket even a strong side can be defeated by a lower-ranked team. As captain I know we need to improve our ranking [currently eighth in this format] by playing good cricket,” the skipper stated.
“Generally speaking there are grey areas in every team but in our case we always try hard to cover all bases. Our head coach Iqbal Imam had been terrific throughout the camp in Karachi and his calming approach is a huge plus point for the entire team because he has been targeting power-hitting, a facet where we previously lacked. We’ve got specialists such as Aliya Riaz, Nida Dar, Iram Javed and newcomer Ayesha Naseem when quick runs are required,” Bismah continued.
“Myself and Javeria Wadood Khan have to shoulder extra responsibilities as senior members along with Nida [Dar]. The selection of Muneeba Ali has further strengthened the team and I hope she repeats her wonderful batting form during the recent national tournament in Karachi.
“There is no doubt we will miss the vast experience of Sana Mir. She had been great for Pakistan but sadly is not in the team now.
“Overall, I’m sure Pakistan would play good cricket. This is the best possible squad the selectors have picked with main focus on young players who are very talented and have done very well in domestic cricket in recent times.”
The squad leaves for Australia via Dubai on Friday morning. Pakistan begin their World Cup journey on Feb 26 against the West Indies before facing England on Feb 28, South Africa on March 1 and newcomers Thailand Women on March 3.
Squad: Bismah Maroof (captain), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz, Aroob Shah.
Officials: Iqbal Imam (head coach), Saleem Jaffer (bowling coach), Amir Iqbal (fielding coach), Gemaal Hussain (strength & conditioning coach), Dr Riffat Asghar Gill (physio), Aisha Jalil (team manager), Zubair Ahmed (analyst).