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Maroof: We need to work on forming partnerships and rotating the strike

Batters' tentativeness cost Pakistan in the Women's World Cup, says Maroof

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Sidra Ameen (c) was the only Pakistan batter to score 200 or more in the Women's World Cup 2022  •  ICC via Getty Images

Sidra Ameen (c) was the only Pakistan batter to score 200 or more in the Women's World Cup 2022  •  ICC via Getty Images

Pakistan need to update their batting approach to show more attacking intent if they hope to compete with the best in the world in future. That was captain Bismah Maroof's assessment of her side after a disappointing World Cup campaign came to an end with a 71-run defeat to hosts New Zealand, Pakistan's sixth of the campaign.
"It's disappointing. The results we wanted are not there, so of course it hurts us," Mahroof said. "Individually, we need to take more responsibility, especially as a batting unit. We have to be more brave and back ourselves. With the plans we've got, we have to have the skills to execute."
As a collective, Pakistan registered one century (from Sidra Ameen) and four half-centuries at the tournament, with Ameen being the only one to cross 200 for them. She is in 14th position on the overall run-chartsas of now. Three other players, Maroof, Omaima Sohail and Nida Dar, made over 100 runs and all of them had strike rates under 72. Pakistan's biggest hitter was Diana Baig, who came in at No. 9 and only scored 68 runs across the tournament, at a strike rate of 82.92. That puts Pakistan as the second-worst batting team at the event so far. Bangladesh are the only team not to have a player cross 200 and with nobody striking over 80, but they have a match to play which could improve those statistics.
For Maroof, Pakistan's underperformance with the bat comes down to tentativeness, which led to a lack of big partnerships and slow scoring rate, "The intent should be there to score runs. All over the world, cricket has changed. We have to adapt to that," she said. "We needed partnerships and overall the girls were working towards that. We were losing wickets at crucial times which added to our pressure and our games used to go deep. The other thing is we need to work on strike rotation and every individual batter is going to work and improve on it."
One example of that was when Pakistan were 155 for 3, chasing 266 against New Zealand and then lost six wickets for 19 runs including set batters Maroof and Dar. On other occasions, Pakistan fell six runs short chasing 224 against South Africa and nine short chasing 235 against Bangladesh. Both times they collapsed from positions of advantage, losing 4 for 24 against South Africa and 8 for 60 against Bangladesh, and Maroof wants her team to recognise those turning points and avoid going the wrong way.
"Grabbing the key moments is very important. When you sense the moment is such that you need to grab it and change the tide, in such situations we didn't respond very well. We definitely need to work on that and like I said, our batting approach needs to change," she said.
Ultimately, there were some positives and she singled out Dar, who was also Pakistan's leading-wicket-taker at the tournament, as a stand-out success. "She is a senior pro. She has taken the responsibility over her performance, which is good to see, especially in bowling," Maroof said. "In the first phases of the matches, she hadn't performed well and there was a bit of concern. We talked with her and how she has backed herself and performed is good to see."
And of course, Maroof could not leave without a final word for the biggest highlight Pakistan's brought to the World Cup, her daughter Fatima. Asked about the experience of being a mother on tour, Maroof paid tribute to her own mum, who traveled as Fatima's caregiver which allowed her to work on her game. "My mother is around and that has taken a lot of pressure off of me and I can concentrate on my cricket," she said.
Although the tournament overall has been one to forget for Pakistan, Maroof has something more than results to look back on. She has stored all the memories of Fatima at the matches, winning hearts and charming all she came into contact with and for that, she'll look back on this World Cup with pride. "The love Fatima got, I wasn't expecting. She is very blessed," she said. "I've saved it all on social media - all the comments and the love. That's what I will show her once she grows up - that look you got so much love. She'll be very proud of how much love she got and how her mum represented Pakistan in a World Cup."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent