Pakistan have never qualified for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup knockout stages but experienced batter Javeria Khan insists they now have the tools needed to progress.
Bismah Maroof’s side have featured in all six editions of the global event and are yet to advance beyond the group stages, winning only six games in the process.
Sri Lanka are the only other ever-presents to have never reached the last four.
But Javeria, 31, says tussling with top sides England, South Africa and New Zealand in bilateral series will help her side convert promise into performances.
“We are closing the gap with every match we play against the top teams,” she said.
“We would come to World Cups to play India and Australia with no experience of facing them outside tournaments. How could we grow?
“The ICC have done this tremendously well with the introduction of the ICC Women’s Championship. Now, we are playing big teams and that’s why we’re gradually improving.
“We used to get hammered by Australia and England but recently, we’ve been in a position to win matches against them and mentality is the main difference.
“We have the talent, we just have to manage pressure at crucial times. There is a golden chance that we can reach the semi-finals.”
Since the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2018, Pakistan have shown promise and beat Bangladesh 3-0 in a bilateral series, while also drawing 2-2 with South Africa.
Javeria’s opening partner for their first group game against West Indies will likely be either 15-year-old Ayeesha Naseem, awaiting her T20I debut, or Muneeba Ali who hasn’t featured since 2018.
Fielding and fitness are other long-standing bugbears for Pakistan, who underwent a ten-day conditioning camp in their homeland to prepare for the tournament.
Javeria – who will play in her seventh T20 World Cup this month – knows her nation must step up in the field to achieve their semi-final dream.
“The improvement is not dramatic, but we are growing gradually in the field,” she said.
“We have fielded better in the last year, compared to how we used to. Fielding turns the game.
“We have grown and there will be improvement in our unit. If we want to win, we have to field well and the girls must realise this.”
The ICC World Cup takes place in Australia from 21 February to 8 March.