Pakistan will host West Indies in Dubai while South Africa will play at home against Sri Lanka in the three-match ODI series in what could be crucial series of the ICC Women’s Championship, which decides the direct qualifiers for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in 2021.
The coming month will, in fact, see focus on the championship like never before with two more series featuring teams in the upper tiers of the points table - Australia host New Zealand and India host England in three-match series starting on February 22.
These teams are the front-runners to make the cut, with New Zealand and four other top teams getting direct entry to the premier event – but for now, before getting into the action themselves, they will be following these matches in UAE and South Africa keenly.
Pakistan and the Caribbean side will play the opening match of their ODI series on February 7 at the Dubai International Stadium while the remaining two matches will be played at the ICC Academy in the same vicinity on February 9 and 11, knowing that each match could count towards qualification. Just one point separates the two teams after nine matches each, with the West Indies in fifth position with nine points and Pakistan next on the table with eight.
Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof sees an opportunity in the series while Windies captain Stafanie Taylor, the second-ranked all-rounder in the ICC Women’s ODI Player Rankings, wants her side to be as formidable in ODIs as they are in T20Is.
“This championship is vital, as it determines and affects our future settings and qualification in the World Cup. So, hopefully, this series will better our position on the points table. I don't think we have an edge over them with respect to venue. We have played in Sharjah, not in Dubai. The field conditions vary quite a lot. So playing in Dubai in new conditions will be a challenge as well," Masroor said.
“If we manage to put enough runs on the board, good pressure can be put with our bowling as it had been quite effective in curtailing them in previous matches. Both formats are quite different but from the T20s we got a lot of encouragement psychologically because we could have won the series had we not stretched one game to the Super Over. So, that scenario elevated our morale and will be really helpful in the ODIs,"she added.
Windies captain Stafanie Taylor, on the other hand, said, “We are taking these games very seriously, not underestimating Pakistan. We definitely need some points under our belt, just need to go out and play our game. I have not played much here, maybe one game, so I don’t know what to expect. But being close (in proximity) to Pakistan, the pitch might be a bit slow and it is for us to go in there and look to see what is happening and then move on from there."
“We are an all-around team, so I think all areas are pretty good. The fact that we won the T20I series is a boost coming into this series. They have match winners – five or so who can win games. Nida Dar, Sana Mir, captain Bismah Maroof and Javeria Khan can all win games. We have strong and talented players who could win the game for us. We are very good in T20Is but also need to improve our ODI cricket," she concluded.