Pakistan’s road to World Cup begins with Sri Lanka ODIs

Published June 1, 2022
PAKISTAN women’s team captain Bismah Maroof and her Sri Lankan counterpart Chamari Athapaththu pose with the ODI series trophy at the Southend Club on Tuesday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star
PAKISTAN women’s team captain Bismah Maroof and her Sri Lankan counterpart Chamari Athapaththu pose with the ODI series trophy at the Southend Club on Tuesday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star

KARACHI: Pakistan have their eyes set on direct qualification to the 2025 ICC Women’s World Cup as their road to the showpiece begins with the a three-match One-day International series against Sri Lanka here at the Southend Club on Wednesday.

The series marks the start of the new cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship, a World Cup qualification cycle involving 10 teams who will play four home and as many away series over the next three years.

The teams finishing in the top five positions by the end of the cycle qualify directly for the World Cup while the remaining teams will have to play the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier — which was the case with Pakistan in the 2017-21 cycle.

“It is our aim to qualify for the World Cup directly,” Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof said during the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“There are championship points up for grabs in these matches and we’ll try get all these points by winning the series.”

Bismah, who led Pakistan to a 3-0 win over the visiting Sri Lankan side in the recently concluded T20I series, said the Women’s Champ­ionship, which was first played from 2014-16, has proved beneficial for the national side.

“Since the ICC introduced the championship we’ve been getting opportunities to play the top teams that we used to face at World Cups only,” said the 30-year-old.

“It has helped us gain a lot of confidence.”

Pakistan had to take the Qualifier path to make it to the World Cup after finishing seventh in the previous Championship. At the World Cup, they managed to win only one of their seven matches.

Starting afresh and with few changes in the squad, Bismah said Pakistan were working towards adapting to a more aggressive style of play as they look forward to a packed calendar, which includes a tri-nation tournament in Ireland featuring world champions Australia, the Commonwealth Games and a tour to Australia early year.

“Our aim is to adapt to a new brand of playing cricket and we’ll carry players who are performing accordingly,” said the batter.

“These matches are very important for the team’s confidence and we want to be fully ready mentally and skill-wise before the next World Cup.”

Unlike Pakistan, Sri Lanka failed to make it to the World Cup, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team was deprived of ample action in the last two years.

The one-dayers against Pakistan will give the islanders a chance to have a go at World Cup qualification again after a tough 24 months and Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu said the team was looking forward to make the most of it.

“These three games are very important for us in terms of the ICC championship points and we’ll try to execute our plans in them,” she said.

“It is a really good opportunity for us and we have to play positive cricket.”

Sri Lanka will also hope to build one their 21-9 ODI record against Pakistan. The hosts though have won the last three ODI encounters betw­een the two sides. The second and third matches will be played on Friday and Sunday.

Pakistan squad: Bismah Maroof (captain), Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Gull Feroza, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui (wicketkeeper), Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wicket-keeper).

Sri Lanka squad: Chamari Athapaththu (captain), Achini Kulasuriya, Ama Kanchana, Anushka Sanjeewani, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Hansima Karunaratne, Hasini Perera, Inoka Ranaweera, Kavisha Dilhari, Nilakshi de Silva, Oshadhi Ranasinghe, Prasadani Weerakkody, Sachini Nisansala, Sugandika Kumari.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022

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