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Pakistan begin ICC Women’s T20 World Cup campaign on Sunday

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan women’s team will be eying to secure a semi-final berth for the first time in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup as they begin their journey in the ten-team tournament against India at the Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.

Bismah Maroof will be leading the side in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup for the second time, after captaining the side in the previous edition held in Australia in 2020. She along with opening batter Javeria Khan will be featuring in their eighth edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

Pakistan’s 15-member squad includes an exciting blend of young and senior players. The side consist of leg-spinner Tuba, right-handed opening batter Sidra Amin and all-rounder Nida Dar – who have won ICC Player of the Month awards last year. Gujranwala-born Nida, who has featured in 126 T20Is, has 121 wickets to her name and requires only five more wickets to go past West Indies’ Anisa Mohammad tally of 125 wickets to become highest wicket-taker in this format in women’s cricket.

The side will be banking on experienced Aliya Riaz and young hard-hitting batter Ayesha Naseem to do well with the bat in the middle overs, while the bowling unit will be spearheaded by ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2021 Fatima Sana, who will be playing her first T20I in the mega event.

Fatima will have the support of experienced Aimen Anwar, with spinners Nashra Sandhu, Sadia Iqbal and Tuba also there to provide stability to the bowling department. Aliya and Nida are also handy with the ball with their right-arm medium and right-arm off-spin bowling, respectively.

Pakistan are placed in Group B and after their tournament opener tomorrow at the Newlands, Cape Town they will take on Ireland women (15 February) in an evening game at the same venue. Pakistan women’s team will then travel to Boland Park, Paarl to feature in their third Group B fixture against West Indies on 19 February, before returning back to the Newlands to feature in their final group match against England on 21 February.

The semi-finals will be played on 23 and 24 February, while the final will be held on Sunday, 26 February. All three matches will be staged at the Newlands, Cape Town.

The 36-year old Nida and 21-year old Fatima talked to the PCB Digital on the eve of their first match of the 2023 edition. Nida Dar said: “The preparations have been good. We have had a good series against Australia despite not winning matches over there, but still a lot to learn from the series which will help us do well in the World Cup. We are placed in a competitive group where we have sides like England, India, Ireland and West Indies. We will take one game at a time and look forward to qualifying for the semi-finals.

“We have a good combination of young and experienced players in our squad. The young players are quick learners and are very enthusiastic. They bring energy in the squad, which ultimately help the senior players to contribute in team’s win.

“Aliya Riaz and Ayesha Naseem roles will be very critical in the batting order, the last five overs are really important and strikers like Aliya and Ayesha will help us do well in the latter stage of the batting. This will ultimately help the bowlers as they will have enough runs to do good in the bowling department.

“India-Pakistan contest is such that it does not require any Sunday, fans will be there to witness the contest any day provided the two sides are playing against each other. It is all about controlling the nerves, it is also exciting to play such matches as people watch you play.

“I don’t want to take any extra pressure on the record coming my way of becoming the highest wicket-taker in the T20I format. I just love playing this game and I just want to enjoy the moment and give my best for the team.”

Fatima Sana said: “I am very excited to play my first T20I match in the World Cup and lead our bowling attack. Obviously playing against India is a special feeling, but we will take it as a normal game and try to give our best shot in the match.

“Fans support are very important; we will want the fans to continue their support to the team whether they are in stadium or watching us from Pakistan. I know the fans really enjoy India-Pakistan contest, so do come to the ground and support our team.”

Pakistan squad for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup:

Bismah Maroof (c), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Naseem, Fatima Sana, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali (wk), Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Tuba Hassan

Reserves: Ghulam Fatima and Kainat Imtiaz

Player Support staff: Ayesha Ashhar (team manager), Saleem Jaffer (bowling coach and interim head coach), Taufiq Umar (batting coach), Mauhtashim Rashid (fielding coach), Syed Nazir Ahmed (media and digital content manager), Yasir Malik (strength and conditioning coach), Dr Hafiz Salman Asif (team doctor), Muhammad Zubair Ahmad (analyst), and Rifat Gill (physiotherapist).

ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 Pakistan fixtures

12 February v India at Newlands, Cape Town, 1800 PKT

15 February v Ireland at Newlands, Cape Town, 2200 PKT

19 February v West Indies at Boland Park, Paarl, 1800 PKT

21 February v England at Newlands, Cape Town, 1800 PKT

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