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Baig back in ODI squad for home South Africa series

Diana Baig appeals for a wicket Asian Cricket Council

Pace bowler Diana Baig has returned to the Pakistan women's ODI squad for the home series against South Africa next month. Baig was recently also named in the Asian Games T20 squad, having recovered from a finger injury that made her miss the T20 World Cup earlier this year. Pakistan and South Africa will play three T20Is and as many ODIs with the 50-over games being part of the ICC Women's Championship and Baig has been picked for both formats. All matches will be played in Karachi.

Pakistan have called up two uncapped players, 18-year-old batter Shawaal Zulfiqar, who was also picked for next month's Asian Games, and wicketkeeper-batter Najiha Alvi for the T20Is scheduled from September 1 to 5. The T20I squad also sees the return of 19-year-old legspinner Syeda Aroob Shah, who last played international cricket at the 2020 T20 World Cup, and allrounder Natalia Parvaiz, whose last international game was in 2018. Parvaiz has also been slotted as a reserve player in the ODI squad. Offspinner Umm-e-Hani, who featured in one ODI in 2022, is picked for both formats.

"After careful consideration, we have decided to bring Syeda Aroob Shah and Natalia Parvaiz back into the fold in the T20I format," chief selector Saleem Jaffar said. "Their recent performances and improved fitness have been remarkable, and we believe they will bring a new dimension to the team.

"Umm-e-Hani's inclusion in both squads is based on her exceptional off-spin abilities. With the pitches in Karachi favoring spinners, we are confident that she will play a crucial role in our bowling attack.

From Pakistan's last T20I squad, which played in this year's World Cup in South Africa in February-March, pace bowler Aiman Anwer, Javeria Khan, Ayeesha Nasem (retired from international cricket), wicketkeeper-batter Sidra Nawaz and legspinner Tuba Hassan have been left out. Allrounder Omaima Sohail is part of the reserves in the shortest format.

In the ODI squad, Umm-e-Hani and Waheeda Akhtar have been picked in place of Ayesha and Kainat Imtiaz from the tour of Australia earlier this year.

"To bolster our fast-bowling department, we have selected Waheeda Akhter in the ODI squad," Jaffar said. "With Diana Baig and Fatima Sana leading our pace attack, it's essential to have cover for them. These two fast bowlers have proven themselves to be pivotal in ODI cricket, especially considering the use of two new balls."

Currently, Pakistan occupy the fourth spot in the Championship table with five wins from nine matches. This will be Pakistan's third home series in the Women's Championship, after hosting Sri Lanka (2-1) and Ireland (3-0) last year in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.

South Africa are ninth, having played only three games in the cycle so far, and winning all of them. The touring side will be reaching Karachi on August 27.

Pakistan Women T20I squad: Nida Dar (capt), Aliya Riaz, Bismah Maroof, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Muneeba Ali, Najiha Alvi (wk), Nashra Sundhu, Natalia Parvaiz, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Shawaal Zulfiqar, Sidra Amin, Syeda Aroob Shah and Umm-e-Hani. Reserves: Anoosha Nasir, Omaima Sohail and Waheeda Akhtar.

Pakistan Women ODI squad: Nida Dar (capt), Aliya Riaz, Bismah Maroof, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Muneeba Ali, Nashra Sundhu, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Umm-e-Hani and Waheeda Akhtar. Reserves: Najiha Alvi, Natalia Parvaiz and Tuba Hassan