Explosive Batter Ayesha Naseem Retires From International Cricket, PCB Announces Asian Games Squad

Ayesha Naseem, the dynamic Pakistan women’s cricketer known for explosive power-hitting, has announced her retirement from international cricket for personal reasons. Consequently, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has left her out of the squad for the women’s cricket competition at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Naseem’s decision surprises many, given her immense talent and impressive strike rate in T20Is.

Ayesha Naseem, aged 18, played four One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 30 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), including the T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2023. She debuted against Thailand in March 2020 and garnered attention for her powerful hitting down the order. With a remarkable strike rate of 128.12 in T20Is, she held the record for the best strike rate by a Pakistan batter in the format. Despite her much shorter cricketing career, Naseem also hit 18 sixes in T20Is, second only to Nida Dar’s tally of 27 for Pakistan. Her retirement leaves a void in the Pakistan women’s cricket team and disappoints fans who admired her aggressive style of play.

The PCB confirmed Naseem’s retirement and announced the women’s cricket squad for the upcoming Asian Games. Nida Dar will lead the team as the full-time captain, taking over from Bismah Maroof, who stepped down after Pakistan’s group-stage exit in the T20 World Cup earlier this year. Maroof could not participate in the event due to regulations not allowing her to take her baby daughter along.

“We wish the best of luck to Ayesha Naseem in her future endeavours as the PCB understands and respects her decision to quit the game for personal reasons,” Tania Mallick, PCB’s head of women’s cricket, said in a board statement.

The squad for the Asian Games features several young talents who gained exposure through Pakistan’s participation in the Under-19 T20 World Cup earlier this year. Anosha Nasir, a left-arm spinner, and batter Shawaal Zulfiqar were rewarded with maiden national call-ups for their impressive performances in the Under-19 women’s team. Additionally, Syeda Aroob Shah, the leg-spinning all-rounder who captained the Under-19 side, returns to the senior team after three years.

Diana Baig, who missed the T20 World Cup due to a finger injury, makes a comeback to the squad, bolstering the pace attack alongside Fatima Sana. All-rounder Natalia Pervaiz also earned a spot in the squad after not featuring in international cricket since 2018. Notable T20 World Cup squad omissions include Javeria Khan, Sadia Iqbal, Tuba Hassan, Omaima Sohail, Aiman Anwer, and Sidra Nawaz.

Saleem Jaffer, PCB women’s chief selector, said. “Our squad for the Asian Games represents the future of women’s cricket in Pakistan. With a mix of emerging talent and seasoned campaigners, I expect the players to do well in the event.”

Pakistan women’s squad for Asian Games: Nida Dar (capt), Aliya Riaz, Anoosha Nasir, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Muneeba Ali, Najiha Alvi, Nashra Sandhu, Nataliya Parveiz, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Shawaal Zulfiqar, Sidra Ameen, Syeda Aroob Shah, Umm-e-Hani

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