Windies women welcome Pakistan’s cricket revival

Merissa Aguilleira and her team arrive in Pakistan to play three Twenty20 Internationals.

Merissa Aguilleira will serve as Windies’ captain as Stafanie Taylor pulled out of the tour due to security fear. Photo: AP

Windies captain Merissa Aguilleira on Wednesday called for cricket nations to return to Pakistan as her squad arrived in the country for a three-match Twenty20 series.

The 31-year-old from Trinidad is leading the 13-member side that landed in Karachi early on Wednesday amid tight security. It was the first visit to Pakistan by a non-Asian women’s team in 15 years.

Even as security dominated the day’s discourse, the team was able to enjoy the finer sides of Pakistan’s largest city, including a camel ride along Clifton beach. Bangladesh was the last women’s team to tour Pakistan in 2015. The Windies last visited the country in 2004.

‘Heading in the right direction’

The side will miss its captain Stafanie Taylor, who withdrew from the tour over security fears. The team plays three matches against Pakistan on Thursday, Friday and Sunday in Karachi.

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Aguilleira said Pakistan — which has only hosted a handful of limited-overs matches since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus suspended international cricket in the country in 2009 — is back on track. “I think right now we are heading in the right direction when it comes to bringing back the cricket in Pakistan,” said Aguilleira at the trophy unveiling ceremony.

“I really believe that the other teams should really be thinking about it (touring Pakistan) because it’s not just about teams, it’s about cricket and when you look at the fans they are so happy that we are here. I am so thankful to God that we can really bring back cricket to Pakistan,” Aguilleira added.

Special welcome: Merissa Aguilleira (left) and Bismah Maroof enjoy a camel ride in Karachi on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

 

“I am urging that other teams come back to Pakistan because the people love cricket which is most important to do as ambassadors of the sport.”

‘Good message to the world’

Pakistan’s captain Bismah Maroof — one of four players who played in the Bangladesh series at home four years ago — said the Windies tour sends the right message. “Definitely, this tour was important for the promotion of women's cricket,” said Maroof.

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“West Indies team coming here will send a good message to the world and our people love the game and hopefully West Indies team will enjoy here.”

Approximately 1,000 police and paramilitary forces will also be on hand to provide security at The South End Club where all three matches will be played.

On the field, Windies will start as favourite. It had won the Twenty20 World Cup title in 2016 and at the corresponding event in 2018, it had secured a semifinal finish. The team has beaten Pakistan in six of the nine Twenty20 Internationals between the two teams, with one defeat and two tied matches.