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March 6, 2009
This will be Pakistan's first World Cup since 1997 and more than anything the players will be looking to soak up the atmosphere and see what it's like to play the big names. But a good performance cannot be secondary to that. After all, unless they reach the Super Sixes, Pakistan will be returning home with only four games under their belt - three group matches and a play-off.
Since qualifying for the World Cup early in 2008, Pakistan have played only two tournaments - the Asia Cup and the tri-series in Bangladesh. Their home series against West Indies in November 2008 was cancelled because of security concerns.
Playing a World Cup every four years is not going to help the players raise their standards so what they need to do in Australia is show other teams that they are worth playing against. In short, they need to get noticed, but that won't be easy.
Although Pakistan come to Australia with some match practice, having played the tri-series in Bangladesh in February, they do not have the wins to boost their confidence. The only major opposition they have beaten is West Indies in Karachi in 2004. They failed to put up a fight against India and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup and even lost to Bangladesh, a side yet to receive one-day status.
Know your competition
India A side they have met six times over the last four years, but never outside the subcontinent. Pakistan open their World Cup campaign against India, who are on the back foot right now, following defeats in England and Australia. Could Pakistan exploit that and book themselves a place in the Super Six?
Sri Lanka Though they haven't beaten Sri Lanka, Pakistan are familiar with their style of play. The tri-series would have given them time to analyse Sri Lanka's weaknesses and they will hope to target them in Australia.
England A team they have played only once since making their first one-day appearance in 1997. But England aren't just an unknown quality for Pakistan, they are really a force to reckon with. Pakistan will have to play above themselves just to avoid being thrashed.
Stars of 2009
Urooj Mumtaz, the captain, is a handy legspinner and averages 23.66 from 30 matches. She took 4 for 31 against Sri Lanka to bowl them out for 195 in an Asia Cup game. But even if she can trigger a collapse, she will need some solid back-up from her batsmen to ram home the advantage.
Bismah Maroof, the 17-year old opener, had a poor 2008 but will be a batsman in whom the captain will place her confidence since she is capable of measured knocks amid a collapse. She scored 43 against India in an Asia Cup game and 45 against Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers, where she made 138 from five matches.
Sajjida Shah, 21, has already played 52 one-dayers, but her highest score is only 44. It's time for her experience of nearly nine years on the international circuit to give Pakistan an unexpected entry into the Super Sixes.
Squad Urooj Mumtaz (capt), Bismah Maroof, Naila Nazir, Javeria Khan, Sana Mir, Almas Akram, Armaan Khan (wk), Asmavia Iqbal, Batool Fatima, Nahida Khan, Nain Abidi, Qanita Jalil, Sajjida Shah, Sania Khan, Sukhan Faiz.
Group fixturesMarch 7 - India v Pakistan, Bradman Oval
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