Javeria Khan, Diana Baig ruled out of first ODI; Sidra Nawaz to lead Pakistan
Javeria Khan in action. © ICC
Pakistan head coach David Hemp has confirmed that skipper Javeria Khan and fast bowler Diana Baig will miss the first ODI against West Indies on Monday (November 8) due to fitness issues. In Khan's absence, wicketkeeper-batter Sidra Nawaz will be acting as stand-in skipper of Pakistan.
Speaking ahead of the first ODI, Hemp said that Khan and Baig are yet to attain full fitness after getting infected by COVID. "Omaima, Diana and Javeria were out of isolation a couple of days ago. They joined the team today for training, but unfortunately, Javeria and Diana are not quite there yet. We have decided to leave them out, and Sidra Nawaz will captain in the first ODI," he said in the pre-series press conference.
Earlier, as many as six players in the Pakistan camp were affected by COVID, following which they had to undergo isolation. Though it seemed like Khan had recovered and was available for selection, the team management had assessed her fitness on Sunday and decided to go against playing her.
With Nida Dar leaving the bio-bubble due to the unfortunate demise of her father, Nawaz will be acting as stand-in captain against a full-strength West Indies on Monday. The wicketkeeper-batter said that it is a huge moment for her to lead Pakistan. "For any cricketer, it is nothing less than a dream to captain your country and I am very happy that I have gotten this opportunity. We have had good preparation for this series and the team looks in great touch and ready to go after the final training session on Sunday."
In the batting department, Pakistan would be relying on Muneeba Ali, Omaima Sohail, and Aliya Riaz to put up a strong performance in the first ODI. Though Ali and Sohail have performed well in patches, Hemp expects them to come good in the ODI series.
"Muneeba, she got herself in most of those innings (in West Indies). She was disappointed not to go on and get to 60, 70 or even a hundred. Omaima did manage to get through the 30-run mark and a couple of 60s. There has been some progress there."
When asked if there will be extra pressure on Fatima Sana in the absence of Baig, Hemp said that the youngster is a composed player, who is capable of leading the attack with the new ball, adding, "she works very hard at the game. She is a quick learner. We just want her to enjoy her cricket and if she does that, it will do well for Pakistan."
Hemp added that despite missing Bismah Maroof, Nida Dar and Javeria Khan, they have the capable players to put up a show against West Indies. "We have Sidra Ameen, Iram Javed, Ayesha Zafar and Aliya Riaz. In the top six, we have players that are capable and performing. This (series) is a great opportunity for them," he concluded.
Pakistan squad for first ODI: Muneeba Ali, Sidra Nawaz (C), Sidra Amin, Anam Amin, Kainat Imtiaz, Aliya Riaz, Ayeesha Zafar, Sadia Iqbal, Iram Javed, Nashra Sandhu, Fatima Sana, Omaima Sohail