By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
The poor performance of their bowlers and fielders has left the Pakistan Women batters with far too much to do in the games so far
Mir has been at the helm for over five years now and is undoubtedly the face of the sport in the country. Her vast experience, not just as a cricketer but also as someone who has grown up facing multiple challenges, provide an insight into what the team lacks and what it needs to do to overcome those odds.
"The amount of players we can engage has been an issue," said Mir, hinting at the attrition rate among young girls. "At school and college levels back home, there aren't too many facilities, so the talent pool is very limited. The lot of players we have now under these circumstances are the best available for selection and we need to juggle around them. It's a slow process and will take a bit of time."
The players Pakistan has picked in recent times – across the last two world events – aren’t too different to the ones in Bangladesh for the ICC Women's World Twenty20. One would then assume that the team could draw upon their experience to deliver. Unfortunately, no department has held its own in the tournament so far – if the bowling's been bad, the catching's been worse.
That has left the batters with too big a task in both matches. To add to the challenge, the quality of opposition won't be any easier, for up next on Saturday (March 29) is Australia Women, the defending champion.
Australia overcame a slow start and has hit the right notes ahead of the home stretch. The batting came a cropper in the opening game against New Zealand Women, but there was a stamp of authority in its wins over South Africa Women and Ireland Women.
Australia's strength, over the years, has been its ability to discover players who rise to the occasion when faced with adversity. At the World Cup last year, it discovered Holly Ferling, who wasn't even aware she'd get a game till the morning of the match against England. She responded by picking up three vital wickets as Australia won by two runs to seal a berth in the final. In the summit clash, Ellyse Perry hobbled her way through an injury to deliver a stellar spell that helped Australia lift the trophy.
In its second game of the ongoing tournament earlier this week against South Africa, the top order was blown away till the calmness of Perry and Alex Blackwell steered it home. Against Ireland on Thursday, it was the turn of Meg Lanning, the captain, to join the party. Lanning's 126 was the second highest score in T20 Internationals. It was a knock that flattened a hapless Irish attack and also sent Australia's net run-rate skyrocketing.
Australia will also be pleased with the return to form of Delissa Kimmince, the opener. But it's not as if Australia is short of options. Nicole Bolton, who smashed a century on One-Day International debut against England in January, is yet to get a game, while the form of the current pace bowling crop has meant Julie Hunter is yet to get an opportunity.
On current form, Australia is the team to beat, but it can't afford to take things lightly as a loss could leave them hoping for other results to go their way if it is to make it to the semi-final.
Pakistan Women: Nain Abidi, Nida Dar, Javeria Khan, Sana Mir (capt), Bismah Maroof, Batool Fatima (wk), Asmavia Iqbal, Qanita Jalil, Sumaiya Siddiqi, Sadia Yousuf, Nahida Khan, Sania Khan, Sidra Ameen, Marina Iqbal.
Australia Women: Meg Lanning (capt), Alex Blackwell, Alyssa Healy (wk), Nicole Bolton, Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Ellyse Perry, Julie Hunter, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Delissa Kimmince.