Wolvaardt, Athapaththu among overseas contingent for Pakistan women's exhibition games
Three "women's festival" matches to be played in Rawalpindi alongside ongoing men's PSL
Laura Wolvaardt, Lea Tahuhu, Danni Wyatt and Chamari Athapaththu are among the 10 overseas cricketers named to feature in three women's exhibition games during ongoing PSL. They will help form two playing XIs, namely Amazons and Super Women, to compete next week in Rawalpindi.
Bismah Maroof, who recently quit the national captaincy, will lead Amazons and Nida Dar will take the reins of Super Women. Three "women's festival" games are slotted to be played midway through the PSL, involving local and overseas players, in what will be a case of the PCB testing the waters ahead of a full-fledged women's T20 league in the future. The fixtures, to be played on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, are all day games at Pindi Stadium and part of double-headers, with men's PSL games to follow in the evening.
The women's exhibition games will feature a roster of 36 cricketers equally divided into two squads, with the playing line-ups to include a maximum of four and minimum of three foreign players and a minimum of one emerging or Under-19 player. Bismah will have three England players to call on - Lauren Winfield-Hill, Maia Bouchier and Tammy Beaumont - alongside Australia's Tess Flintoff and Ireland captain Laura Delany. Dar will be leading Sri Lanka captain Athapaththu, England batter Wyatt, fast bowler Jahanara Alam from Bangladesh, South Africa's Wolvaardt and Tahuhu of New Zealand.
"I am delighted to lead the Amazons team in the three exhibition matches of the women's league," Bismah said. "This is a great opportunity for our players to express their talent. The involvement of foreign players in the exhibition matches will provide a perfect opportunity to our players to learn from them."
Wolvaardt top-scored for her country in the final of recently completed Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa, while Wyatt is the joint-second most-capped player in women's T20Is, with 143 appearances. The 10 oversees players are from seven nationalities, with eight recently representing their country at the T20 World Cup.
The opening game is slotted to celebrate International Women's Day with the second exhibition match, on Friday, to create awareness about breast cancer in partnership with Pink Ribbon Pakistan.
"I am thrilled and excited that the exhibition matches for the Women's League are taking place," PCB head of women's cricket, Tania Mallick, said. "These exhibition matches provide an exposure to our players to exhibit their talent and play at their best. When you play a league with foreign players it provides the local players an opportunity to know about their skill level and it also motivate the players to improve their game. This will go a long way to empower our women, not only as cricketers but will provide them a platform and with an opportunity other than playing cricket."
The PCB had previously planned to have the inaugural women's league run concurrently with the men's PSL, but that was shelved. As things stand, the aim is to launch a standalone project later this year. The new league will have four teams and is expected to function as a separate entity, with a different name and identity to the men's PSL.
Amazons: Bismah Maroof (capt), Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Areesha Noor, Eyman Fatima, Fatima Khan, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Gull Feroza, Kainat Imtiaz, Laura Delany (Ireland), Lauren Winfield-Hill (England), Maia Bouchier (England), Nashra Sundhu, Sadaf Shamas, Tammy Beaumont (England), Tess Flintoff (Australia), Umm-e-Hani
Super Women: Nida Dar (capt) Aimen Anwar, Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka), Danni Wyatt (England), Iram Javed, Jahanara Alam (Bangladesh), Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa), Lea Tahuhu (New Zealand), Muneeba Ali, Natalia Parvaiz, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Shawaal Zulfiqar, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz, Syeda Aroob Shah, Syeda Masooma Zahra, Tuba Hassan
Laura WolvaardtLea TahuhuDanni WyattChamari AthapaththuBismah MaroofNida DarLauren Winfield-HillMaia BouchierTammy BeaumontTess FlintoffLaura DelanyJahanara AlamBangladesh WomenSri Lanka WomenSouth Africa WomenPakistan WomenNew Zealand WomenIreland WomenEngland WomenAustralia WomenWomen's League ExhibitionPakistan Super League
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent