Pakistan have a huge task ahead in Commonwealth Games’ ‘Group of Death’

Pakistan © Getty Images

Pakistan qualified for the Commonwealth Games as one of the top-ranked sides in the ICC T20I rankings. They come to this tournament with a recent series win against Sri Lanka and the experience of playing in the Tri-series against Australia and Ireland. Three of the four matches Pakistan were scheduled to play were rained off, but at least the team got the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the conditions. 

How they made it

International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the qualification process in November 2020. Pakistan qualified for the Commonwealth Games as one of the six top-ranked sides apart from hosts England in T20Is on April 1, 2021, along with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. 

What have they done in the past?

Cricket will be part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time, but the Pakistan team has the experience of multi-team events. Pakistan have been part of all the T20I World Cups since 2009, and the team, led by Bismah Maroof, has enough experience of multi-team events.

How has their recent form been?

Pakistan had to face some close losses during their World Cup campaign and also had a win against West Indies. Since then, the team has played and won the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka 3-0. 

Pakistan recently traveled to Ireland and faced Ireland and Australia ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Despite unfavorable weather conditions, Pakistan were able to get some practice in similar conditions to England against one of the sides they will face in the Commonwealth Games.

Also Read: I aspire to be the fastest bowler in the world: Fatima Sana

Pakistan Squad:

Bismah Maroof (c), Muneeba Ali (wk), Anam Amin, Aiman Anwer, Diana Baig, Nida Dar, Gull Feroza (wk), Tuba Hassan, Kainat Imtiaz, Sadia Iqbal, Iram Javed, Ayesha Naseem, Aliya Riaz, Fatima Sana, Omaima Sohail.

Likely Playing XI:

Iram Javed, Muneeba Ali (wk), Bismah Maroof (c), Ayesha Naseem, Nida Dar, Aliya Riaz, Fatima Sana, Kainat Imtiaz, Diana Baig, Anam Amin, Tuba Hassan

Key players

Nida Dar: 

The 35-year-old has been the centerpiece of the Pakistani team. The all-rounder was crucial in the World Cup as she was the highest wicket-taker and fourth highest run-scorer for Pakistan. She is currently one of the few players with 1000+ runs and 100+ wickets in T20Is. Dar’s experience at the international level will also help the youngsters in the team, who are playing their first multi-team event. Pakistan would want her to bring her best game throughout the Commonwealth Games.

Aliya Riaz:

The 29-year-old allrounder has had the knack of rescuing Pakistan with the bat over the years. Despite batting in the lower-middle order, Riaz has proved herself to be a valuable asset for the team in the death overs. She has not bowled as much as she would have liked in the recent past due to back issues, but she is a reliable pace option for captain Bismah Maroof. Her batting partnership with Dar will be crucial for Pakistan in the Commonwealth Games. 

X factor

Tuba Hassan:

The 21-year-old made her international debut in the series against Sri Lanka and took five wickets in the series. She received the Player of the Month award from ICC for May 2022 for her bowling figures in the series. She has received praise from former Pakistan captain Sana Mir too. “Tuba has shown a lot of confidence and skill to make an impact for Pakistan in her debut series. She has been working hard for some time and it is heartwarming to see her celebrating success in her first series for Pakistan,” Mir said. She did not get enough opportunity in the tri-series, but the leg-spinner could be a pocket rocket for Pakistan.

Fatima Sana:

Another young player from Pakistan who has made an impact with her bowling is Fatima Sana. She has forged a great bowling partnership with Diana Baig in both formats, and it has helped other bowlers as well. ICC awarded the youngster with the Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year for 2021 and she has not shied away from the recognition and responsibility. She has also built a reputation as a pinch-hitter in the death overs for Pakistan, which might come in handy during the Commonwealth Games.

Prediction

Group Stage

Pakistan are still an emerging team, and they have not played much T20I cricket in the recent past. They have to face the T20 World Cup champions Australia and runners-up India in their group. There are no easy match-ups for Pakistan as they will have to face Barbados as well in the group stage. If they put out a solid team effort, they might have the opportunity against them, but they still face an uphill battle in the group of death.