With plÂenÂty of energy and high hopes, the Pakistan womenâ€™s cricket team is ready for the ICC Womenâ€™s World Cup Qualifier in Colombo. We know the enormity of the task as well as its importance and that makes us more passionate and determined to do well in this event.
If we do well, we not only qualify for this yearâ€™s World Cup but also become part of the second edition of the ICC Womenâ€™s Championship, which will commence later this year. These are big incentives and will help our progress in the future.
We approach the World Cup qualifier with a positive mindset, and within the unit there is a resolve to not only qualify for the bigger and mega event but also win the event.
Womenâ€™s cricket has attained greater heights since it came under the ICCâ€™s umbrella in 2005. We all know that improvement in womenâ€™s game is more visible now and the profile of the game has been raised globally.
The ICC Womenâ€™s World Twenty20 last year was very competitive, where we saw South Africa tie a game against Australia, we beat India and the West Indies emerged as champions. As a senior pro, I feel womenâ€™s game is heading in the right direction and the improvement will be rapid in the years to come.
Coming back to the Colombo qualifiers, I feel the format is very good, competitive and offers all sides equal opportunity. I remember, we were part of the World Cup in 2009 which was played on the same format. The format allows all sides a good chance and that is an encouraging sign.
The format also guarantees each side that will qualify for the pinnacle womenâ€™s event a minimum of six matches, which is extremely helpful and useful in preparations for the event proper to be staged in England and Wales from 24 June and 23 July.
From our perspective, we are satisfied with our preparations as we were put into rigorous routines.
As for the competition, the two groups are of five teams each. In our group, we have South Africa and Sri Lanka, both of whom we have beaten in the past. We also have a good record against Bangladesh and Scotland, while we donâ€™t know much about Papua New Guinea as a team but we are sure we can beat them.
So, the first task will be to qualify for the Super Six stages. We know that South Africa will face problems in Asian conditions so we will try to exploit that.
Once we progress to the Super Sixes, we have a few bigger goals â€” the prime being to beat India and then go on to win the championship. We have not beaten India in a one-day, but last yearâ€™s World Twenty20 win over them will surely inspire us this time. There is always a first time and when you aim positively, better results come.
Reaching the ICC Womenâ€™s World Cup will be a great achievement. I led the team in the 2013 event, while I was Urooj Mumtazâ€™s deputy for the Sydney tournament in 2009. The first one in 2009 was the first major event for most of us and we managed to beat Sri Lanka, while in the India event in 2013, we didnâ€™t do well despite having a good squad. So, we need to improve significantly on that, come the 2017 event.
On a personal front, it has been a long journey for me. I am satisfied with what I have achieved. Leading Pakistan has been a great honor. The trust Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has shown in me has been very helpful and encouraging. I have always strived to lift our standards in general and womenâ€™s game in particular.
Before the qualifiers, I am reminded of a personal milestone of needing two wickets to become the 15th bowler to claim 100 or more wickets in One-Day Internationals. While it will be a big personal achievement, my main focus is to give a perfect performance for the team.
Lastly, through this message, I would like to pay tribute to Rachel Hayhoe-Flint, the icon of womenâ€™s cricket. She was one of the pioneers of our game and no praise is enough for her contributions. Womenâ€™s cricket will need more of such icons to get more recognition.
(Sana Mir is Pakistanâ€™s women cricket captain. She has to date represented Pakistan in 90 ODIs and 75 T20Is since making her debut in 2005. In ODIs, she has scored 1,144 runs and taken 98 wickets, while she has scored 664 runs and taken 66 wickets in T20Is).
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2017