KARACHI: Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof is hopeful the upcoming Women’s T20 Asia Cup will be an opportunity for the team to bounce back after a disappointing show at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Pakistan lost all three of their group games — against Barbados, India and Australia — during the Games, held in July-August, once again raising questions over their status as a competitive international side.

They’ll kick off their Asia Cup campaign against Malaysia in Sylhet, Bangladesh, with Bismah and co set to fly out to the country in the wee hours of Wednesday after having undergone a 10-day preparation camp in Lahore.

“Our previous series didn’t go well, so we will try to rebuild our side and restart our winning streak,” Bismah said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Our coaches have worked really hard on players in the camp and we will try to execute the practice in the matches in the tournament.”

With Pakistan already in a rebuilding stage following a dismal show at this year’s World Cup, pacer Fatima Sana’s injury ahead of the Asia Cup has come as an additional challenge for the team.

Bismah admitted Fatima will be missed during the tournament, while also looking at the setback as an opportunity for other players.

“Fatima has remained a vital part of the side, her absence is a setback for us, but at the same time it is a great opportunity for other players to step up and play a role in winning matches for the side,” said the Pakistan captain.

The Asia Cup will see seven sides from the continent play against each other in a single-league round with the top four sides qualifying for the semi-finals. The format, Bismah said, will help her team to prepare for bigger assignments in the future — particularly next year’s World Cup.

“The tournament format is such that it provides a number of matches to the players which will ultimately help us to get ourselves ready for next year’s World Cup,” said the 31-year-old.

“We will not be complacent, every team in the tournament will come fully prepared, and we will try to produce good results.”

Pakistan are slated to face archrivals India on October 7, after playing Bangladesh and Thailand following their tournament opener. Bismah believed the three games will help the national side find their rhythm ahead of the big clash.

“The match against India is an important one, but before that we have other games,” she said.

“We will try to gain momentum in the tournament, and once it is with us, we will look forward to the game against India.”

The tournament ends on October 15.

Squad: Bismah Maroof (captain), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali (wicket-keeper), Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Nashra Sundhu, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wicket-keeper) and Tuba Hasan.

Reserves: Natalia Pervaiz, Umme Hani and Waheeda Akhtar.

Support staff: Ayesha Ashhar (team manager), Saleem Jaffer (bowling coach and interim head coach), Mauhtashim Rashid (fielding coach), Mohammad Zubair Ahmad (analyst) and Rifat Gill (physiotherapist).

Fixtures:

October 2: Pakistan vs Malaysia

October 3: Pakistan vs Bangladesh

October 6: Pakistan vs Thailand

October 7: Pakistan vs India

October 9: Pakistan vs UAE

October 11: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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