Pakistan women to tour South Africa in January 2021

The Pakistan players celebrate a wicket Getty Images

The South African women's team will return to international action for the first time since March when they host Pakistan in January. The teams will play six white-ball matches in a bio-secure environment in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, beginning with the two ODIs at Kingsmead on January 20 and January 23, and a third at the Pietermaritzburg Oval, which will also host the first two T20Is, before the tour ends with a third T20I at Kingsmead.

"Hosting this tour of Pakistan Women is incredibly important to us as this will give our Protea Women much needed game time and also bring in revenue that funds the entire game of cricket especially during these difficult times," Graeme Smith, CSA director of cricket, said. "We enjoy a very good working relationship with the Pakistan Cricket board and we look forward to hosting their ladies side in what promises to be an exciting tour in the new year."

The Pakistanis will begin their preparations with a warm-up match at Durban's Chartsworth Oval on January 16 against the South African Emerging squad.

"It is critical for women's cricket that we continue to invest in the game in these difficult times, otherwise all the efforts and hard work that have gone recently in building the profile, enhancing the standard and generating fan interest and following will be wasted," PCB women's chief selector and head of the women's cricket, Urooj Mumtaz, said. "I am delighted that Cricket South Africa have agreed to host us for a full tour despite having already qualified for the ICC Women's World Cup 2022. This is yet another indicator and reflection of our relationship with the Member boards who are willing to help and support each other in any possible way."

The ODIs will be broadcast on pay-television provider, SuperSport, while the T20Is will be live-streamed. The series is the latest is ongoing good relations between South Africa and Pakistan, which will see the men's team tour Pakistan for the first time in 14 years early next year and Pakistan reciprocate with a white-ball tour to South Africa next March. The women's series is not part of the ICC Women's Championship. South Africa have already qualified for the 2022 50-over World Cup in New Zealand while Pakistan will have the chance to secure their spot at the qualifying event, which, according to a PCB statement, will be held in July.

Pakistan's tour to South Africa will also be their first assignment under head coach David Hemp and bowling coach Arshad Khan, who were appointed in October and November respectively.

"To prepare and select the best available side and in continuation to the Women's High Performance Camp and the National Triangular T20 Women's Cricket Championship, the women's national selection committee has invited 27 women cricketers for a training and preparation camp, which will be held at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in Karachi from 20 December," the PCB said in a statement. "From the start of the training camp until the side's departure for Durban on 11 January, the women cricketers will remain and train in a bio-secure environment, besides undergoing routine testing in line with the PCB Covid-19 protocols. Prior to joining the camp, each cricketer will require a negative test and another negative test after reporting for the camp before being allowed to integrate with other members of the group."

The South Africa women's team has not played competitive cricket since the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup in Australia, where they made the semi-finals, and have had series against Australia (at home) and West Indies (away) postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. They had hoped to travel to England for a series in September, but were forced to decline the invitation because of travel restrictions in South Africa at the time.

Since then, all domestic and international sport has been allowed to resume in the country, behind closed doors. The men's national team played England in three T20s and were due to play three ODIs against them before those matches were postponed because of Covid-19 concerns. The men's national team's next assignment is against Sri Lanka over the festive season even as the country is into an official second wave, with restrictions on movement to be announced this week.

Pakistan's probables for the South Africa tour: Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Bismah Maroof, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana Khan, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Javeria Rauf, Kainat Imtiaz, Kaynat Hafeez, Maham Tariq, Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Najiha Alvi, Nashra Sandhu, Natalia Pervaiz, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Saba Nazir, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz and Syeda Aroob Shah