The 2022 edition of the Women’s World Cup is scheduled to begin on 4th March 2022. Being held in New Zealand for the third time, the marquee event in the women’s calendar will consist of 31 matches culminating in the finals on April 3rd at Christchurch.
There are a total of 8 teams participating in the tournament. Australia, England, South Africa and India obtained a direct entry to the tournament alongwith the host New Zealand. With the Qualifier for the tournament cancelled mid-way last year, the final 3 spots were determined through the ODI rankings at the end of the league, which meant that Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Indies made the cut.
The 8 teams will be playing each other once in a round-robin format and the top four teams will advance to the knockouts.
Pakistan crashed out of the group stage in the last World Cup in 2017 in England, failing to win a single game. After the World Cup, they faced New Zealand in the UAE but lost the series 2-1. They went on to beat Sri Lanka 3-0 in Sri Lanka and beat Bangladesh in the solitary ODI before losing to Australia 3-0 in Kuala Lumpur. They also won the series against West Indies before drawing the series against South Africa and Bangladesh but lost to England in what turned out to be the last series before the pandemic. Having done reasonably well until then, they struggled after the pandemic, losing to South Africa and West Indies while touring. They also lost the return series against West Indies at home. They could only play 2 matches of the World Cup Qualifiers, winning and losing one game each.
Their performance in ODIs since the last World Cup is as follows:
|Played||Won||Lost||Tied/No Result||Win %|
Pakistan have announced an 18-member squad for the tournament:
Main Squad: Bismah Maroof (captain), Nida Dar, Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Omaima Sohail, Sidra Amin and Sidra Nawaz
Traveling reserves: Iram Javed, Najiha Alvi and Tuba Hassan
Bismah Maroof returns to captain the side after 2 years after completing her maternity break. Nahida Khan and Ghulam Fatima also return to the side. Nahida Khan played her last game in January 2021 while Fatima has not been a part of the national side since 2018.
- Capable All-Rounders:
The Pakistan squad is made up of several all-rounders who have contributed well with both bat and ball. Nida Dar, the vice-captain, has featured in 84 ODIs scoring 1290 runs hitting 8 half-centuries. She is even more effective while bowling, taking 74 wickets including 2 four-fors. Aliya Riaz has scored 791 runs in 38 matches, scoring 4 half-centuries, but also bowls regularly in this format. Omaima Sohail is a young top-order batter, who has already scored 2 half-centuries in 22 games and bowls regularly for Pakistan.
- Strong Bowling Attack:
Pakistan also has a strong bowling attack at their disposal. Anam Amin, the off-spinner, is a strike bowler, taking 44 wickets from 29 games at a strike rate of just over 18, including a fifer and 3 four-fors. Nida Dar, also an off-spinner, is quite effective with the ball and is currently the third most-successful bowler for Pakistan in this format. Nashra Sandhu is a slow left-arm spinner with more than 50 wickets to her name. Ghulam Fatima is a leg-spinner returning to the national side. Collectively, it is a strong lineup of spinners with Diana Baig and Aiman Anwar being the only specialist seamers in the squad.
- Inconsistent Batting Performances:
Much like their Asian counterparts, Bangladesh, Pakistan has a batting lineup that is quite weak and fragile. Much depends on the experienced players like Javeria Khan and Bismah Maroof. Both have the capacity to anchor the innings with over 2000 runs in this format along with 10+ half-centuries each. Apart from them, only Aliya Riaz and Nida Dar have shown their consistency with the bat and can handle the end overs. Only Bismah Maroof, Javeria Khan and Aliya Riaz have an average of over 25 runs in the format, which is a bit of worry for Pakistan.
- Absence of Sana Mir:
Despite a reasonably good bowling attack, Pakistan will miss the experience of the veteran Sana Mir. She was the leading wicket-taker for Pakistan with over 150 wickets. She would have also been able to guide her fellow spinners that would be participating in this tournament.
- Slow & Two-Paced Surfaces:
Although Pakistan will find it difficult on fast tracks, they would feel at home on wickets that are slow and low and aid spin. They have a versatile spin attack who can frustrate the opposition batters by drying up the runs and can also pick up wickets using their variations. They might encounter such wickets at the end of the tournament as they may be playing on used pitches.
- Low Totals & Collapses:
Pakistan have not got a formidable batting unit and have the tendency to bat relatively slowly which might not get them adequate scores against good bowling attacks. They have few batters who could provide them with the finishing touches to prop up their score, which compounds their problem further. They will have to rotate the strike throughout their innings so that their innings move on consistently else they can be stuck with small targets which could be a cakewalk for the opposition.
Pakistan will have a challenging task first up, playing against arch-rivals India at Mount Maunganui on March 6th to kick-start their campaign.