Sunday, January 18, 2009
by GARDEZI at 11:56:00 AM
The Pakistan women's cricket team won almost all their matches in the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa
The year began on a positive note for the girls in green and they did what sportswomen in Pakistan had been struggling to do for several years now — be known for their sporting achievements.
The Pakistan women's cricket team won almost all their matches in the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa. Earlier, the qualifiers were planned to be held in Lahore, in Nov 2007, but had to be rescheduled and moved due to the emergency imposed by the then President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf.
The date for holding the event had been moved ahead by three months but when it clashed with Pakistan's general elections, the ICC management and Women's Committee in January decided to hold the qualifiers in Stellenbosch, South Africa, from February 18 to 24.
The girls had been preparing for the event throughout 2007 but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Women's Wing also organised a month-long camp for the 20 or so probables at the Lahore Country Club in Muridke to enable them to confidently face the other seven teams in the event.
Ireland, Zimbabwe, Scotland, hosts South Africa, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and Bermuda alongwith Pakistan competed in the event. Pakistan managed to beat all their opponents in the pool matches (Ireland by 57 runs, Zimbabwe by nine wickets and Scotland by 252 runs).
In the semi-finals, they beat the Netherlands by 94 runs but then lost to South Africa by eight wickets in the final.
Still, they managed to qualifiy for the Women's World Cup to be held in Australia in the March 2009.
The bunch of girls from next-door finally earned recognition after the event. Skipper Urooj Mumtaz Khan and her girls became household names, so did their coach Umer Rashid who earned much acclaim. Success in the qualifiers and the euphoria which followed also helped the Women's Wing unearth fresh talent from all over Pakistan. The qualifiers followed the National Women's Cricket Championship in March featuring teams from all over the country, even Peshawar.
But the following international tournament the Women's Asia Cup 2008 in Sri Lanka in May brought the girls as well as the nation back to the ground with a loud thud. Pakistan were beaten by 96 runs by hosts Sri Lanka in their first encounter and it was all a downhill slide for them from there on. Next, the team was outclassed by Bangladesh by four wickets followed by a drubbing from India who beat them by 182 runs.
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan again, in the second round, this time by 46 runs. Pakistan's only win came on the event's fifth day when they met Bangladesh again, this time to beat them by 38 runs. However, India trounced Pakistan yet again, by 207 runs and eventually went on to take the Cup when they beat Sri Lanka by 177 runs in the final.
Also in May, former cricketer Shaiza Khan, president of the Pakistan Women's Cricket Control Association (PWCCA) filed a petition in the Lahore High Court to get her association recognised as a legitimate cricket body in Pakistan. A women's team under Shaiza's captaincy had already played the Women's World Cup in India in 1997 but the PCB, after the setting up of the Women's wing in 2004, wouldn't acknowledge the fact, reducing PWCCA to a club.
Meanwhile, putting behind their Asia Cup disappointments, the cricketers once again got busy in their preparations for the mega events in 2009. Besides the World Cup in March, they are also to feature in the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.
The Quadrangular Tournament in Karachi in July fulfilled the purpose to some degree. Four teams, namely the North Zone, South Zone, Central Zone Blues and Central Zone Greens played each other in the 10-day event staged at the outskirts of Karachi, the lush Quaid-i-Azam Park in Steel Town. South Zone eventually won the event when they beat Central Zone Blues in the final that was played at the National Stadium.
The event also saw the matches being supervised by women umpires for the first time in a national event.
Later training was also imparted to some 25 women scorers at a three-day training course at Steel Town.
The next tournament, the five One-day Internationals and three Twenty20 matches home series with West Indies that was to take place in Karachi and Hyderabad in October was cancelled abruptly by the visitors due to their security concerns after the September 20 bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
On the administration front, there had been talk of impending changes within the Women's Wing too after Ijaz Butt's taking over as chairman of the PCB in October. The announcement took place in November when Shirin Javed was appointed as the new chairperson in place of Mira Philbus. The change at the top paved way for further changes including the resignation of manager Shamsa Hashmi, yet the team management was not disturbed when Omer Rashid was retained as team coach.
The year concluded with the women's team looking forward to the triangular series (Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) in Bangladesh in early February to be followed by their next assignment the all-important World Cup
by GARDEZI at 11:45:00 AM