Kuala Lumpur: With Pakistan women looking to keep alive their chances of securing direct qualification in the ICC Women’s Championship and England women seeking to maintain an impeccable record against them, the seventh round fixtures of the ICC Women’s Championship, which commence on 9 December, promises to keep fans at the edge of their seats.
Pakistan are fifth, with 15 points, in the eight-team ICC Women’s Championship – a point below fourth-ranked South Africa – and will be eager to make history in the three ODIs at Kuala Lumpur’s Kinrara Oval by securing their maiden win over England in international 50-over cricket. The two teams have come face to face in the format eight times.
The Bismah Maroof-led side enters the series at the back of impressive performances.
They came from behind to beat West Indies women 2-1 in Dubai in their first ODI assignment of the year, and levelled a three-match away series against South Africa women and a two-match home series against Bangladesh.
The three ODIs present six crucial points, which will not only help Pakistan to break into top-four on the points table but also push their case for the automatic qualification for the 50-over ICC Women’s World Cup New Zealand 2021 in which the host plus four other top sides will secure direct berths.
Heather Knight’s England, who are ranked second and are guaranteed a spot, have won seven out of 12 games in 2019. They rolled over West Indies and Sri Lanka women to win the two series 3-0, but enter the series at the back of a 3-0 sweep by Australia at home. Their year had begun with a 2-1 defeat in an away series against India.
Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof said: “England present a big challenge for us and we are aware of it. But we have prepared well for the series. There are crucial ICC Women’s Championship points on offer because of which girls are pumped up for the series.
“The conditions here are different than what England usually play in. And, as a team we have improved a lot than the last time we played England in 2017. We have youngsters and new faces in the side. I am hopeful we will surprise England.”
England captain Heather Knight said: “We have had change of guards and some new players have come in. This is an opportunity for them to show us what they are about, put up performances, get ready for international cricket and get used to the touring life and playing for England. The T20 World Cup is around the corner, obviously we have got the ODI series first, but over the course of this tour we look to get ready for it.
“Pakistan have played really good cricket over the last few years. They have a chance to qualify for the 2021 World Cup so it is going to be a really good contest. Kuala Lumpur is a very different place for us to come to. We are used to touring Asia and playing back home so it is quite a different experience.
“Conditions are quite different here than what we get back at home. The humidity is similar to Sri Lanka and the wickets are different and are a lot slower.”
Meanwhile, the match officials for the three ODIs have also been announced. Match referee Mohammad Javed will lead the team of umpires, which includes Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz as on-field umpires and Kalidas Visvanadan as a reserve umpire.
The ODI series will be followed by three T20Is, also at Kinrara Oval, between the two sides.
Squads for ICC Women’s Championship fixtures
Bismah Maroof (captain), Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Aroob Shah, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Javeria Khan, Kaynat Hafeez, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Sidra Amin and Sidra Nawaz (wicketkeeper)
Heather Knight (captain), Amy Jones (wicketkeeper), Anya Shrubsole, Danni Wyatt, Fran Wilson, Freya Davies, Kate Cross, Katherine Brunt, Kirstie Gordon, Lauren Winfield, Mady Villiers, Nat Sciver, Sarah Glenn, Sophie Ecclestone and Tammy Beaumont
9 Dec – First ODI (ICC Women’s Championship), Kinrara Oval. On-field umpires: Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz, Reserve umpire: Kalidas Visvanadan, Match referee: Mohammad Javed
12 Dec – Second ODI (ICC Women’s Championship), Kinrara Oval. On-field umpires: Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz, Reserve umpire: Kalidas Visvanadan, Match referee: Mohammad Javed
14 Dec – Third ODI (ICC Women’s Championship), Kinrara Oval. On-field umpires: Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz, Reserve umpire: Kalidas Visvanadan, Match referee: Mohammad Javed
17 Dec – First T20I, Kinrara Oval. On-field umpires: Ghaffar Kazmi and Khalid Mahmood Sr., Reserve umpire: Kalidas Visvanadan. Match referee: Mohammad Javed
19 Dec – Second T20I, Kinrara Oval. On-field umpires: Ghaffar Kazmi and Khalid Mahmood Sr., Reserve umpire: Kalidas Visvanadan. Match referee: Mohammad Javed
20 Dec – Third T20I, Kinrara Oval. On-field umpires: Ghaffar Kazmi and Khalid Mahmood Sr., Reserve umpire: Kalidas Visvanadan. Match referee: Mohammad Javed