Preview: Pakistan Women’s tour of South Africa 2021

International cricket resumes as Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team tours South Africa for 6 white ball matches. The stage is being set for the first time in 2021 for women’s cricket. Both South Africa and Pakistan are going to play after a break of nearly a year since pandemic disrupted the sports activities all across the world. Following is a preview of Pakistan women’s tour of South Africa.

Preview of ODI series:

Pakistan will play 3 ODIs against South Africa. The tour is crucial for Pakistan as they are prepping for the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in July. The World Cup is scheduled for early 2022 in New Zealand. In order to get a spot in the mighty tournament, Pakistan must pull off the qualifiers. On the other hand, South Africa have already qualified for the World Cup alongside Australia, England, India and hosts New Zealand.

South Africa’s last ODI appearance was against New Zealand in the beginning of 2020. Amidst pandemic, their face-offs against Australia, England and West Indies were cancelled. The Pakistan side last appeared in an ODI against England in 2019. Not having played a single ODI since 2019 has done no good to Pakistan. They are looking forward to pick up the momentum against South Africa, before they go to the World Cup Qualifiers.

Preview of T20I series:

Pakistan and South Africa are ready for 3 T20I clashes. Due to pandemic, Pakistan and South Africa have not featured in any T20I since the World Cup in March 2020. Pakistan delivered a below par performance in the big contest, while South Africa made it to the semifinals where they lost to the home team, Australia.

Although cricket in South Africa suffered a great deal due to Covid-19, almost all big names of the side were seen in WBBL 06. More than any other country, 8 South African players starred in WBBL in Australia recently. The league helped players get in rhythm after a long break. Shabnim Ismail, Lizelle Lee and Mignon du Preez flaunted their skills in the league. While Marizanne Kapp suffered health scares during the tournament, she is now fit.

Pakistan seem to be well in form as the players recently featured in a domestic T20 competition. Selectors have broadly considered the performances in National Triangular T20 Women’s Cricket Championship to finalize the squad for South Africa tour. One of the major selection due to domestic championship is Kainat Imtiaz. The all rounder is set to make comeback in the national side after 10 years. Her remarkable form in the domestic tournament booked her a ticket to South Africa. Moreover, high averages of Muniba Ali and Javeria Khan in national competition made their selection a ‘no-brainer’.

New Captains for Pakistan and South Africa:

Pakistan and South Africa, both would play the series under substitute skippers.
Javeria Khan will lead Pakistan in the absence of skipper, Bismah Maroof. Maroof bowed out of the tour due to ‘family reasons’. Javeria Khan is an experienced cricketer and has lead the side previously. She also took the charge in World Cup 2020, when Maroof was ruled out due to an injury. She was the second best performer with bat in National T20 Championship. Thus, Javeria Khan seems to be apt option in the absence of primary skipper.
South Africa have named Suné Luus as captain since Dane van Niekerk is unfit. Dane van Niekerk will miss out the series as she suffers a back injury. Suné Luus is young yet adept cricketer. The 25-year-old leg spinner has appeared in more than 150 matches for South Africa in limited-over formats. She has captained the Proteas women in the past and is fit for the role in the present situation.

Pakistan’s squad for ODI and T20I:

Pakistan have announced a 17-member squad. The highlights of the squad are Javeria Khan, Kainat Imtiaz, Nashra Sandhu, Omaima Sohail and Ayesha Zafar. The players were primarily called to a High Performance Camp on the basis of their achievements in National T20 Championship. After the fitness camp and Covid-19 tests, the squad was finalized to fly to South Africa. The tour is Pakistan’s first assignment under the coaching of David Hemp. The decent performers of this tour are very likely to be selected for the World Cup Qualifiers in July. Thus, Pakistan women’s tour of South Africa matters a great deal for the squad which is a blend of young and experienced cricketers.

Squad: Javeria Khan (captain), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Syeda Aroob Shah.

South Africa’s Squad for ODI and T20I:

South Africa named 18 players. Young skipper, Suné Luus will lead a team with both legendary names and fresh faces. South Africa suffered mighty blow due to injuries of Chloe Tryon and Captain van Niekerk. But on a positive side, it is a golden chance for new players to rise and shine. Since South Africa have already qualified for the World Cup, they look forward to experiment with young guns against Pakistan.

Squad: Sune Luus (captain), Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty (wk), Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Lizelle Lee, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Nadine de Klerk, Tumi Sekhukhune, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Lara Goodall, Nondumiso Shangase, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Faye Tunnicliffe, Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits

Fixtures:

The stage is set for 6 white ball matches between Pakistan and South Africa. The tour begins with an ODI match in Durban on 20th January, 2021. The other two ODIs are to be played on 23rd and 26th of January, respectively.
First T20 match is scheduled to be played on 29th of January. Second T20 will be played on 31st January. The tour ends with third T20 on 3rd February, 2021. All 6 matches will be held in a bio-secure bubble in Durban.

Pakistan women’s tour of South Africa reciprocates the tour of Proteas men as they visit Pakistan after 14 years amidst pandemic.

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