Javeria, Sana Dominate Pak women cricket headlines in 2018
Sana achieved No1 bowling ranking and also became the first Pakistan women's cricketer to be selected in the ICC Women's ODI Team of the Year.
Away ODI and T20I series wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were the highlights for the national side, which has qualified directly for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020. The Pakistan women's cricket team enjoyed some real highs, albeit with some lows, in what was an action-packed 2018.
The team featured in the Asia Cup, ICC Women's Championship and the ICC Women's World T20 2018 (which has been renamed as the ICC Women's T20 World Cup). In the Asia Cup, Pakistan finished third after losing the semi-final to eventual champions Bangladesh, won and lost their ODI series to Sri Lanka and Australia in the Championship, and qualified directly for the ICC Women’s World T20 2018, though failing to progress to the semi-finals of one the toughest and most grueling events in the women's international calendar.
In addition to the above, Pakistan also toured Bangladesh for four T20Is and an ODI, which were played at Cox's Bazar. They won the T20I series 3-0 but lost the one-off ODI.
Pakistan's tour to Sri Lanka for the ICC Women's Championship also consist of three T20Is, which they won by a 2-1 margin.
In the series against Sri Lanka, Javeria averaged an incredible 79.64 in the ODIs. She also notched up her second career century while scoring an unbeaten 113 (142b, 15x4) in the opening match of the series in Dambulla.
Seasoned campaigner Sana took 10 wickets in the series, giving away a mere eight runs per wicket in the series.
Prior to the Caribbean disappointment, Pakistan had travelled to Kuala Lumpur for a three-ODI series that was part of the ICC Women's Championship and three T20Is against world’s highest-ranked ODI and T20I side, Australia. Australia won all the six matches.
The highlight of the series for Pakistan was the performance of Sana, who took three for 26, one for 37 and three for 53 to finish with seven wickets in the series. This performance was reflected in the ICC women's ODI rankings, when Sana jumped three places to become the first Pakistani to top the bowling rankings.
There was disappointment at the ICC Women’s World T20, but there were also a couple of positives and great stories. Firstly, Javeria, who had scored 136 runs, was named in the ICC Team of the Tournament, while Sana's delivery to Ireland’s Laura Delany was voted as the Play of the ICC Women's World T20 2018.
Sana, who is regarded as an icon of women’s cricket in Pakistan, expressed her gratitude at the end of an incredibly rewarding year.
"It has been quite an eventful year for sure; I started the year with a knee injury and underwent my rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. The stay there helped me regain my fitness. The doctors, physiotherapists and trainers at the academy worked really hard on me and I want to thank them for their effort," Sana said.
"Becoming number one has been an exciting journey. I have worked very hard in 12 years of international cricket to stay in the top 20 and considering the fitness struggles at the start of the year, the achievement is a huge privilege and honour," she added.
"I feel very humbled that God gave me the opportunity to earn a name for myself and most importantly my country," she said.
Pakistan women's coach Mark Coles felt that the team was heading in the right direction and should make further progress in 2019.
"We started the year with a real high against Sri Lanka but finishing third in the Asia Cup was unsatisfactory. However, a 3-0 T20 series win against Asia Cup champions Bangladesh in October was very satisfying. The team lost both the ODI and T20 series against top-rankers Australia in November but played competitive cricket," he said.
"In the ICC Women's World T20 2018, we were in the group of death with Australia, New Zealand, India and Ireland. We had a very close match against India and a win against Ireland meant we qualified directly for the 2020 event, which will take place in Australia."
Coles feels that the core of the team has gained invaluable experience in 2018, which augurs well for the challenges ahead.
"To see Sana as the top-ranked bowler in the world and to have Nida Dar and Anum Amin making rapid strides has been very heartening. The staff and the players have been wonderful ambassadors for Pakistan. The PCB Women’s Wing has some exciting plans for growing the game in the country and that should hold us in good
stead in the coming days."
According to the year in numbers, Javeria was the most outstanding batter in both ODIs and T20Is. She scored 227 runs in seven ODIs, while her contribution in 18 T20Is was 454 runs.
Nahida Khan scored 208 runs in six ODIs and 273 runs in 17 T20Is, while Bismah Maroof was the other leading batter in the shortest format with 323 runs in 14 T20Is.
Amongst the bowlers, Sana Mir took a total of 33 wickets - 19 in ODIs and 14 in T20Is, while Nashra Sandhu bagged six ODI wickets and 15 T20I wickets. Nida Dar was, however, Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker in T20Is with 22 wickets in 18 matches.
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