Left-arm spinner Anoosha Nasir and right-handed batter Shawaal Zulfiqar have been rewarded for their strong performances in the ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup and Emerging Women’s Teams Asia Cup with maiden call-ups in Pakistan’s senior women’s squad for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. The 15-player squad also features Diana Baig who makes a return to international cricket after recovering from a finger injury that she sustained in the third and final One-Day International against Australia in January this year.
Pakistan women’s team that have won gold medals in the last two editions, held in Guangzhou, China in 2010 and Incheon, South Korea 2014, and will be aiming for a hat-trick when they feature in this year’s event scheduled to take place from 19 to 26 September. The event will be played in T20 format.
Pakistan women’s team as per the ICC T20I rankings and tournament’s rule will feature in the event from the quarter-finals scheduled to take place from 22 to 24 September. The semi-finals will be played on 25 September, while the final will take place on 26 September. The match for Bronze medal will also take place on Tuesday, 26 September.
The 15-member squad was finalised after deliberations amongst the women’s selection committee led by Saleem Jaffar, head coach Mark Coles and captain Nida Dar.
Squad: Nida Dar (captain), Aliya Riaz, Anoosha Nasir, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Muneeba Ali, Najiha Alvi, Nashra Sundhu, Nataliya Parvaiz, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Shawaal Zulfiqar, Sidra Amin, Syeda Aroob Shah and Umm-e-Hani
Before the Asian Games, Pakistan women will feature in the home series against South Africa consisting three T20Is and three ODIs (part of ICC Women’s Championship 2022-25) in Karachi from 1 to 14 September. The squad for the bilateral series will be announced in due course.
Former captain Bismah Maroof has opted out of the Asian Games because of the event’s rules and regulations that do not allow athletes to carry their children.
Ayesha Naseem, who featured in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, expressed her desire to retire from the game, which the board accepted.
Chief Selector Saleem Jaffar: “Our squad for the Asian Games represents the future of women’s cricket in Pakistan. With a mix of emerging talent and seasoned campaigners, I expect the players to do well in the event.
“The Asian Games present a unique opportunity for our young players to showcase their talent on an international stage. We have taken a strategic approach to assemble a squad that complements the conditions of the venue where the matches will take place. Each player’s strengths and adaptability to the playing conditions have also been assessed to form a solid squad.”
Head of Women Cricket, Tania Mallick: “Being a part of the Asian Games is an exhilarating experience for our team. It’s not just about the competition; it’s about camaraderie, sportsmanship, and representing the country with pride. Our players have shown incredible dedication and skill, and now they have a golden opportunity to make history by winning the coveted title for the third time.
“The team is unfortunate to miss out on the services of Bismah Maroof for this event as she would not have been able to accompany her infant daughter to the Games village due to the regulations in place.
“We also wish the best of luck to Ayesha Naseem in her future endeavours as the PCB understands and respects her decision to quit the game for personal reasons.”
Pakistan captain, Nida Dar: “The Asian Games have witnessed some extraordinary moments for Pakistan women’s cricket, and it’s an immense privilege to be part of that history. As captain, I am confident in the abilities of my teammates, both the experienced ones and the exciting young talents. Together, we aim to create more unforgettable memories and clinch that third consecutive Gold.
“There’s a sense of pride and determination within our team as we head to the 19th Asian Games. We know the competition will be tough, but we have a strong belief in our skills and team spirit.
“It’s disheartening to hear that Bismah Maroof won’t be available to join the team due to the protocol of the organisers. As known her for years, I understand how much representing Pakistan means to Bismah.
“We have a team of incredibly talented and dedicated players who are ready to seize this opportunity and excel on the big stage. Each one of us is determined to give our absolute best and uphold the legacy of Pakistan women’s cricket in the Asian Games.”
Player Support staff: Ayesha Ashhar (team manager), Mark Coles (head coach), Saleem Jaffer (bowling coach), Mauhtashim Rashid (fielding coach) and Rifat Gill (physiotherapist).