PAKISTAN’S women cricketers fell short of expectations on their recent tour of South Africa, losing the closely fought ODI series 0-3 and going down 1-2 in the T20 contests. Though there were some fine individual performances, especially from captain Javeria Khan, Nida Dar, all-rounder Aliya Riaz and right-arm pacer Diana Baig, the team’s inability to get their act together at crucial stages saw them go down by narrow margins to a buoyant home side. To be fair, the African safari was the team’s first tour in the Covid-19 era and the players have blamed their rusty performance on the lack of tours and activity at home during the past year. Their argument did seem to carry weight as towards the end of the South Africa tour, the players managed to win the last T20 on the basis of the Duckworth-Lewis method. The team carried their good form on the subsequent tour of Zimbabwe where they beat the hosts by a huge margin of 178 runs in the first ODI before the tour was abruptly abandoned due to travel chaos.

Having said that, the critics and ex-coaches of the team insist the players need to work on their mental toughness to hold their nerve in order to convert close games into victories. The team’s new coach David Hemp is a professional and is optimistic the team can become a competitive outfit. But the fact remains that during the past three to four years, the plummeting graph of women’s teams such as Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ireland makes it clear that their respective boards ought to prioritise and invest in women’s cricket to make an impact at the world level. It is hard to remain oblivious to the lack of resources and support for women players as compared to men’s teams. In order to give the players more exposure and prepare them for bigger challenges, a dedicated women’s cricket league on the lines of the PSL could be one solution.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2021

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