Pakistan’s women’s team for the Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China includes fresh talents including Anusha Nasir and Shawal Zulfikar, known for their impressive performances in the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup and Emerging Women’s Team Asia Cup, the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement on Tuesday.
Diana Baig has also returned to international cricket after recovering from a finger injury sustained during the One Day International against Australia earlier this year.
Pakistan captain Nida Dar is excited about the upcoming women’s tournament and expressed her pride in being a part of Pakistan women’s cricket at the Asian Games, saying: “The Asian Games have seen some extraordinary moments for Pakistan women’s cricket, and it is a great privilege to be a part of that history.”
Dar said that as a captain he has faith in the abilities of his teammates, both experienced and exciting young talent. “Together, we aim to create more unforgettable memories and win our third gold medal in a row.”
The skipper spoke about the sense of pride and determination within the team as we head towards the 19th Asian Games. “We know the competition will be tough, but we have full confidence in our skills and team spirit.”
The Pakistan women’s team has won gold medals in the last two editions held in Guangzhou, China in 2010 and Incheon, South Korea in 2014, and will be aiming for a hat-trick when they take part in the event to be held from September 19 to 26 this year. The event will be played in T20 format.
According to the ICC T20I rankings and tournament rules, the Pakistan women’s team will take part in the quarter-finals to be held from 22 to 24 September. The semi-finals will be played on 25 September, while the final will be held on 26 September. The match for the bronze medal will also be held on September 26 (Tuesday).
However, Dar was “disappointed” by the absence of Bismah Maroof in the team, who would be unavailable to join the team due to Asian Games organizers’ protocols preventing athletes from carrying their children. That’s why he opted out of this program.
Dra said, “As I have known him over the years, I understand how much it means to Bismah to represent Pakistan.”
The skipper relied on his “incredibly talented squad and dedicated players” who are ready to seize the opportunity and excel on the big stage.
“Each one of us is determined to give our best and maintain the legacy of Pakistan women’s cricket at the Asian Games,” Dar said.
The 15-member squad was finalized after deliberations between the women’s selection committee led by Saleem Jaffer, head coach Mark Coles and captain Nida Dar.
Ahead of the Asian Games, Pakistan women will take part in three T20Is and three ODIs (part of the ICC Women’s Championship 2022-25) in a home series against South Africa in Karachi from 1 to 14 September. The squad for the bilateral series will be announced in due course.
Ayesha Naseem, who featured in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, has expressed her desire to retire from the game, which has been accepted by the board.
Commenting on the development, chief selector Saleem Jaffer said that Pakistan’s squad for the Asian Games represents the future of women’s cricket in the country.
“With a mix of budding talents and seasoned campaigners, I am hopeful that the players will do well at the event,” he added.
The former cricketer said that the Asian Games provide a unique opportunity to our young sportspersons to showcase their talent on an international platform.
“We have adopted a strategic approach to create a team that suits the conditions of the venue where the matches will take place. Each player’s strengths and adaptability to playing conditions have also been assessed to build a solid team,” he added.
Women’s Cricket Head Tania Malik said that being a part of the Asian Games is an encouraging experience for the team.
“It is not just about competition; it is about camaraderie, sportsmanship and representing the country with pride,” he added. He said the players had shown incredible dedication and skill, and “now they have a golden chance to make history by winning the coveted title for the third time.”
Malik described Bismah Maroof’s absence from the tournament as “unfortunate” due to the current rules. He wished Ayesha Naseem all the best for her future after she announced her retirement from cricket due to personal reasons.
“The PCB understands and respects his decision to quit the game due to personal reasons,” Malik said.
Shaft: Nida Dar (Captain), Alia Riaz, Anusha Nasir, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Muneeba Ali, Naziha Alvi, Nashra Sundhu, Natalia Parvez, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Shawal Zulfikar, Sidra Amin, Syeda Arub Shah and Umm-e-Hani