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PCB Unveils Squad for Women’s Asia Cup 2024; Nida Dar Retains Captaincy

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has officially announced a 15-member squad for the forthcoming Women’s Asia Cup, which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka. Senior all-rounder Nida Dar continues to lead the side despite a spate of poor performances during their recent tour of England. Pakistan, struggling to find their form, suffered comprehensive defeats, losing 2-0 in the One Day Internationals (ODIs) and 3-0 in the Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).

High-profile omissions from the England series squad include Ayesha Zafar and Shadaf Shamas. Their exclusions leave space for fresh talent, with four players being given their maiden call-up for international cricket in 2024. The seasoned trio of Iram Javed, Omaima Sohail, and Syeda Aroob Shah have been drafted back into the team, having represented Pakistan in the previous year. Meanwhile, 22-year-old pace bowler Tasmia Rubab will make her debut at the national level, an opportunity she has eagerly awaited.

The announcement of the squad comes in the wake of a rigorous four-day training camp held in Karachi, which wrapped up on June 29. Before their departure to Sri Lanka, the team will engage in another intensive 12-day training camp starting on July 5 and concluding on July 16. This preparatory phase is critical as it will also introduce the squad to their new coaching staff, including head coach Mohammad Wasim, assistant coach Junaid Khan, and spin bowling coach Abdur Rehman. This newly appointed support team brings fresh strategies and perspectives, aiming to revitalize the squad and potentially change their trajectory in the upcoming series.

Pakistan is placed in Group A for the Women’s Asia Cup, alongside arch-rivals India, Nepal, and the UAE. The squad will kick off their campaign in a high-stakes match against India on July 19, which is also the opening day of the tournament. The matches will be hosted in Dambulla, and the tournament promises to deliver electrifying cricket as it moves toward the semi-finals on July 26 and culminates in the final on July 28.

The inclusion of new players and the reshuffling of the coaching staff are seen as proactive moves by the PCB, aiming to restore Pakistan’s competitive edge on the international stage. The board appears committed to addressing the shortcomings identified during the England tour. One hopes these changes will bolster the spirits of the team and deliver better results.

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Reflecting on the announcement, PCB’s Chief Operating Officer, Salman Naseer, expressed optimism about the squad’s composition. “Our selections have been quite strategic,” he stated. “The inclusion of both experienced and emerging players should provide a balanced lineup. The fresh faces bring vigor and enthusiasm, which we believe, combined with the seasoned players’ expertise, will serve us well.”

Nida Dar, despite the recent challenges, remains a key figure for the Pakistani side. Her leadership qualities and all-rounder skills are invaluable assets. Commenting on her continued captaincy, Dar remarked, “It’s an honor to lead the team, particularly at such a crucial juncture. We have reviewed our mistakes and are geared up to compete fiercely in Sri Lanka.”

The selection panel, led by Asmavia Iqbal, focused not only on current form but also on the potential to deliver under pressure. Fitness levels and performance in the domestic circuit were crucial criteria for selection. The goal throughout this process has been to craft a squad capable of facing formidable opponents and emerging victorious.

The upcoming Asia Cup serves as a significant battleground for the Pakistani women’s team, testing their resilience and capacity for a turnaround. The fans and cricket analysts alike are eagerly waiting to see how these changes translate on the field.

The detailed squad list for the 2024 Women’s Asia Cup includes: Nida Dar (c), Aliya Riaz, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Gull Feroza, Iram Javed, Muneeba Ali, Najiha Alvi, Nashra Sandhu, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Syeda Aroob Shah, Tasmia Rubab, and Tuba Hassan. Each of these names will carry the hopes and aspirations of Pakistani cricket fans who desperately yearn for a triumphant campaign.

As the countdown begins, all eyes will be on how these players mesh together under new leadership both on and off the field. This Asia Cup could very well become a defining chapter in the annals of Pakistan women’s cricket.