Muneeba Ali and Aimen Anwar have been recalled in the 15-player squad for the ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Australia from February 21 to March 8. Uncapped Ayesha Naseem have also been named in the squad, a press release Monday said.
The trio have replaced Nahida Khan, Ayesha Zafar and Rameen Shamim in the T20I squad, which lost 3-0 to England in Kuala Lumpur last month. The average age of the side is 24.8, which also indicates the selectors’ vision and future planning.
Muneeba, who last turned out for Pakistan in November 2018, has been recalled at the back of a prolific National Triangular T20 Women’s Cricket Championship, in which she scored 292 runs at a staggering average of 58.40.
Ayesha has been inducted in the line-up for her hard-hitting abilities at the top of the order. The 15-year-old right-handed batter from Abbottabad scored 64 runs at a strike-rate of over 206.
Aimen, the right-arm medium-fast, took four wickets in five matches, bowling at an economy rate of 7.68. She last played a T20I in February 2019 against the West Indies women in Karachi.
Pakistan women would depart for Australia on January 31 and will play three warm-up matches against the West Indies on February 7, 9 and 11. Prior to their departure, the team would have an eight-day camp from January 23 to 30 at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre, Karachi.
The squad includes Bismah Maroof (captain), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wicketkeeper) and Syeda Aroob Shah.
Urooj Mumtaz, the chair of the national women’s selection committee, said the selection of 15-year-old Ayesha and 16-year-old Aroob Shah should be a motivation and message for all the budding youngsters.
“The team has been selected keeping in mind the current form and performances along with the conditions in Australia,” she said.
Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof said we have tried to strike the right balance of youth and senior players. “It was a tough decision to leave out Sana Mir. I wanted to have her in the squad over which I, along with the selection committee, had deep deliberations. We had to decide between her and the emerging players who had been impressing on all the stages”.
“I respect and support the decision of the major group and hope she will continue to serve Pakistan women’s cricket in future with the same passion and energy,” she said.
Pakistan are drawn with England, South Africa, Thailand and the West Indies in Group B.
The Bismah Maroof-led unit begin their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 journey on February 26 against West Indies. The take on England Women on February 28 after which they play South Africa Women and Thailand Women on March 1 and 3.—APP