West Indies women to tour Pakistan after nearly 15 years
West Indies, the last non-Asian women's team to tour Pakistan, are set to play in the country again after nearly 15 years. The series, comprising three T20Is, will take place in Karachi from January 31 to February 3, and will mark the resumption of women's international cricket in Pakistan since they hosted Bangladesh for two T20Is and two ODIs in September 2015.
West Indies had last toured Pakistan in March 2004 for an ODI series. They were only the second team overall to play in the country, after Netherlands. They will play the three T20Is at the Southend Club in Karachi, before moving to Dubai for three ODIs that will be part of the 2017-21 ICC Women's Championship. The first ODI will be held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, while the second and third matches have been assigned to the ICC Academy ground. The West Indies women will arrive in Dubai on January 26 before travelling to Karachi on January 30.
"The visit of the West Indies women's team to Karachi is great news not only for Pakistan cricket but for women's cricket in general," PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmad said. "We are thankful to Cricket West Indies and their players for trusting the PCB and agreeing to play three T20Is in Karachi.
"The decision of Cricket West Indies endorses our position that Pakistan is as safe and secure as any other country. On behalf of the PCB, I would like to say that we are confident that this tour will go a long way in the complete revival of international cricket in Pakistan.
"The PCB and the CWI have a very long history of collaboration and mutual respect, and this decision further illustrates strong relationship between the two boards. With the West Indies women's cricket team's agreement to partake in the three T20Is, the CWI has reiterated their support for a key member of the cricket fraternity in a time when we are working extremely hard to get international cricket back into our backyard.
"By playing in Karachi, they will also contribute to the growth and popularity of women's cricket in this part of the world. I am sure this series will inspire a number of young women cricketers to take up this great sport."
CWI chief executive Johnny Grave said: "This tour is a further major step for our friends at the Pakistan Cricket Board to bring their cricket back home, and we are pleased that our players and support staff have recognised this and supported this venture.
"The security plan arranged by the PCB is of exactly the same level that the Windies men's team had last year and independent security advisors, Eastern Star International (ESI), have confirmed to both the CWI and WIPA that they are satisfied that the risk is manageable and can be mitigated to an acceptable level.
"We have made it very clear to the players and support staff that should any of them have any personal reservations about this tour, than we fully understand and accept their position."
Last year, the West Indies men's team played three T20Is in Karachi, snapping a near-decade absence of top-flight, bilateral international cricket in Pakistan, enforced by the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009. Zimbabwe, too, toured in 2015, for five limited-overs games, while World XI exhibition T20s, a T20I against Sri Lanka and a few Pakistan Super League matches have been played in the past two years.
Although Pakistan women made their international debut in 1997, a continued conservative outlook towards women in the sport has meant only 23 ODIs, two T20Is and a solitary Test have been played on home soil. Only two non-Asian women's teams - Netherlands and West Indies - have played international cricket in Pakistan, the former becoming the first side to tour the country for a seven-match ODI series in April 2001.
West Indies played three ODIs in Pakistan in 2004 and although the home team lost the series 2-5, the headlining acts of the tour came during the drawn one-off Test. Pakistan opener Kiran Baluch surpassed Mithali Raj's 214 to make 242, which still stands as the highest individual score in women's Tests. Shaiza Khan, the Pakistan captain, followed up Baluch's heroics with the best match figures of 13 for 226, including a hat-trick in West Indies' first innings.
Bismah Maroof is set to return as the Pakistan captain for the West Indies series. Following a sinus surgery in July 2018, Maroof had stepped down from the position. She recovered in time for the World T20 in November, but the experienced Javeria Khan had to fill in as stand-in captain.