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Cricket made its debut in the Birmingham Commonwealth games 2022 and it was women’s cricket that graced the debutant sport. The game included eight teams from India, Pakistan, Australia, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Barbados and South Africa. While it is a matter of pride for the nation that the Pakistan women’s cricket team participated and played, their performance wasn’t satisfactory in the event. Here’s what happened and why for Bismah Maroof and her team.
A Summary of the Tournament
Falling in pool A alongside Barbados, India and Australia, the Pakistan women’s cricket team began their campaign playing against Barbados. It wasn’t a dream debut as the girls in green fell short of just 15 runs while chasing 144. Nida Dar registered a half-century but it went in vain. Unfortunately, the momentum never came for the green shirts as they went on to lose the next two matches also.
They face arched rival India next. Batting first, the women in green shirts could only post a total of 99 runs despite a solid start from opener Muneeba Ali. A couple of run-outs ensured that team Pakistan remained within the double digits. In reply, the Indian women’s team carried a solid batting assault led by Smriti Mandhana, who scored 63 runs to sail the team to an eight-wicket win.
Unfortunately, Pakistan women’s team could not bag a single win as they lost their final pool match against Australia while chasing 161. Though they put up a great fight but collapsed on 116 runs in spite of Sana Fatima’s heroics in the middle. The Kangaroos won with 44 runs, putting a halt to Pakistan journey in the commonwealth games.
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What went wrong for Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team?
This is the second unsuccessful campaign run in three months for the women’s cricket team of Pakistan. The cricket World Cup held earlier this year saw some very close defeats for the green shirts and they barely managed to administer a single win in the entire tournament. This time too, the girls could not put up a match-winning performance.
The management really needs to rethink the entire batting order. In the three games played in Birmingham, the opening partnership and middle order stability ranged from very less to almost none.
While batting second, the performance with the bat was better but it still lacked the required power hitting. Talking to the press, skipper Bismah Maroof iterated that while the team wasn’t overly reliant on the power hitters yet, they failed to deliver.
“One has to play the anchor and stay in the middle but the power-hitters whom we rely on couldn’t execute things for us. That’s an area to work on.”
Perhaps a complete overhaul or experimentation with new combinations would give the Pakistani side what they are lacking in the batting line-up.
Pakistan women’s cricket team has a good bowling lineup but their performance remained below par in the debut sport. The green shirts could only manage to take seven wickets in three matches, which played a vital role in their early exit from the tournament.
Why does this keep happening?
The reason behind the consistent underperformances can be attributed to a number of factors, the number one being the lack of a proper domestic system. While the top women’s cricket teams of the world have a structured domestic system well in place, working for years, Pakistan women’s cricket team is still awaiting one.
It’s just not the system only, but a lack of international cricket has kept women’s cricket, especially in Pakistan, on the sidelines. The Covid hit years further hampered the little cricket the women’s team was playing. From 2020 to date, the green shirts have been part of five international tours, including just the T20 World Cup in the year 2020 only.
After the Pak v India match in Birmingham games, captain Maroof raised the importance of Pakistan women participating in the international domestic tournaments and how a lack of it has affected the players.
“Indian players and batters have developed and gained confidence because of opportunities to play in the leagues, which is not the case with our players. Once our players start getting more such opportunities, they will develop well and get confident.”
What’s being done for Pakistan Women Cricket Team?
After years of neglect, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has set up a domestic structure for women cricketers. Pakistan women’s cricket team will play a triangular T20 Women Cricket Championship in the coming November, and a Women’s One-day Tournament is on the cards for the year 2023. Before this, the U19 women players will be involved in a T20 tournament starting 10th August 2022.
Even though these tournaments seem few as compared to what the men’s domestic season constitutes, this is just a start. A change is definitely coming for the girls in green and the future seems bright.