LAHORE   -     Pakistan and South Africa women teams start their three-match ICC Women’s Championship ODI series today (Monday) here at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom.

The two captains Bismah Maroof and Sune Luus unveiled the series trophy on Sunday, a day ahead of the series opener. Only a single point separates the two teams in the current ICC Women’s Championship standings. Pakistan occupy the sixth spot with 12 points while South Africa are in the fifth spot with 13 points.

Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof is satisfied with the team’s preparation since their arrival in South Africa, she feels that the team is fully equipped to challenge their hosts. “Preparation has been very good since we arrived in South Africa. We played two practice matches and won both. The team is upbeat and ready for the series. The players have worked hard and I am very hopeful that we will have good results.

“The series is vital for both sides considering our standings in the ICC Women’s Championship, a victory in the series would be a huge lift for us and I have full confidence in my team that they can repeat the success against the West Indies and win the series in South Africa as well.” Bismah said.

South Africa captain Sune Luus is wary of the talent and abilities of the Pakistan team especially after their historic first-ever ODI series win against the West Indies earlier in the year. “We are confident that our plans would be in place for the first game. Overall, we are a well-balanced side and Pakistan are one of the better teams, which will provide us a good challenge.

“I think they have a lot of young players and they have good energy, they have had good confidence against West Indies. We have prepared well for them so I am backing my team in the series which is very important for both sides considering the ICC Women’s Championship,” Luus said.

Among the two squads taking part in the ODI series, South Africa’s Lizelle Lee is the top-ranked batter in the ICC ODI batting rankings for women, she is currently on the 12th spot with 664 points. Pakistan’s top-ranked batter is Javeria Khan; she is currently in the 24th spot with 536 points, two points ahead of teammate Nahida Khan.

Sana Mir with 718 points occupies the third spot in the ICC ODI bowling rankings for women with 718 points. South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp is placed sixth with a total of 678 points. Sana is sixth in the all-rounder rankings with 300 points while Kapp is eight with 293 points. The first match starts at 1000 hrs, (01:00 PM Pakistan time). The second match will also be played at the same venue on 9 May while the third and final match is scheduled to take place in Benoni on 12 May. The ODI series will be followed by a five-match T20I series.

PAKISTAN SQUAD: Bismah Maroof (capt); Aiman Anwar; Aliya Riaz; Fatima Sana; Javeria Wadood Khan; Javeria Rauf; Kainat Imtiaz; Nahida Khan; Nashra Sandhu; Nida Dar; Rameen Shamim; Sana Mir; Sidra Amin; Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Omaima Sohail.

SOUTH AFRICA SQUAD: Suné Luus (capt), Chloe Tryon (vc), KwaZulu-Natal, Lizelle Lee (wk), Andrie Steyn, Laura Wolvaardt, Shabnim Ismail, Mignon du Preez, Tumi Sekhukhune, Masabata Klaas, Marizanne Kapp, Nadine De Klerk, Zintle Mali, Nondumiso Shangase, Sinalo Jafta (wk).