KARACHI: A disastrous show at the ICC World Cup earlier this year gave the Pakistan women’s team a reality check as they found themselves far from the standards required to be a competitive side at the international stage.
The 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 here at the Southend Club on Tuesday.
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,” Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof said during the pre-match press conference on Monday. “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.”
Bismah admitted Pakistan are suffering due not having a proper structure for women’s domestic cricket in the country. The batter rued the lack of fully developed players in the selection pool.
“There is big difference between our domestic level and the international level,” she said. “We don’t have many players who have already developed and some are gradually coming in since the number of games has started increasing.”
To address this issue the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has considered plans to launch a women’s T20 league next year. Countrywide trials are also being held to form women’s teams of cricket associations.
“If more competitive cricket at the domestic level, there’s a high chance that more players will enter into the pool,” Bismah said.
While improvements in women’s domestic cricket take place as a part of a long-term project, the Pakistan skipper said the three-day training camp ahead of the series under the scorching Karachi sun was utilised to give the younger players the confidence to become performers at the international level.
“We are well prepared and after training in fairly hot weather, we have tried to get used to it in the last three days,” said Bismah. “We’ve tried to give confidence to the youngsters and are looking forward to give them chances in this series.”
Pakistan will go into the Sri Lanka games with slight changes into the squad with two uncapped youngsters in batter Gull Feroza and spinner Tuba Hassan included.
It won’t be just the squad that is changed, the approach is expected to be different too.
“When you try to change the brand you can both fail and be successful,” Bismah said. “This has been communicated to the players and we’ll try to play according to that brand in this series.”
Sri Lanka too haven’t been the best in women’s cricket in the last two years. The side failed it to make it to the World Cup and has not even played a lot of cricket in the period.
While Pakistan look to find their confidence against a team fairly weaker than them, Sri Lanka will hunt for opportunities to cause an upset.
“Last two years we didn’t have many games because of Covid protocols in Sri Lanka but things have eased up now,” said Sri Lanka coach Hashan Tillakratne. “This tour is a great opportunity for the girls to come out and perform.”
Both teams have so far played 13 T20Is against each other and have an even record with six wins apiece. The last time these two sides faced off in a T20 series, Pakistan came out on top with a 2-1 win.
Tuesday’s match will be the first T20I between the two sides in Pakistan.
“We are starting out 2025 World Cup campaign,” said Tillakratne. “We think if we play to our potential, we can challenge them.”
Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022