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Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof will hope to lead her side to victory over India tomorrow. Image Credit: AFP

Cape Town: Pakistan will look to break India’s iron grip on their rivalry when the Asian giants meet in the Women’s T20 World Cup at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.

India and Pakistan have met in 13 women’s T20 internationals in the past 14 years, with India holding a 10-3 winning advantage.

Because of political tensions, all the contests have been in multi-team tournaments.

Neutral territory

The only match not on neutral territory was in the Asia Cup in Delhi, India, in 2016 when Pakistan won a rain-affected contest.

Pakistan won the most recent match between the two sides, also in the Asia Cup, in Sylhet, Bangladesh, in October 2022. But India went on to win the cup.

India have a superior overall record in women’s cricket and reached the final of the 2020 World T20, losing to hosts Australia.

There is also a gulf in earning potential, with most if not all of the Indian players likely to land lucrative deals in the Indian Women’s Premier League auction which takes place in Mumbai on Monday.

That will only add to the riches of skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana who currently earn around $60,000 each.

India’s women are also on an equal footing with their vaunted men’s team when it comes to match fees - they all receive 1.5 million rupees ($18,000) for each Test, 600,000 rupees for one-day internationals and 300,000 rupees for T20 internationals.

Pakistan players are prevented from entering the IPL auction, although there are plans for a Pakistan women’s league later this year.

Back in 2018, Pakistan media reported that while male internationals made around $77,000 a year on average, women players were bringing home only $12,000.

Close matches

Kaur said she expected the World Cup to be competitive.

“Though Australia go into the tournament as favourites, there is very little separating other teams, promising close matches and high-class performances,” she said.

Kaur said her players took inspiration from the country’s youngsters which won the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa last month.

Two players from the junior team, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, are part of the senior squad.

“We have depth in batting and enough variety in bowling to do what is required against top teams,” said Kaur.

Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof, one of her country’s centrally contracted players, said a series in Australia last month had been ideal preparation for the World Cup, although Pakistan lost both completed matches against the world’s top women’s team.

“The series provided the players a great opportunity to prepare themselves and express their talent,” said Maroof. “The pitches in South Africa are likely to be of the same nature as we got in Australia.”

Pakistan fast bowler Diana Baig suffered a finger injury in Australia which ruled her out of the World Cup.

56 not out

Veteran Nida Dar, 36, is a key player for Pakistan. She was the star of the win against India in Sylhet last year, scoring 56 not out and taking two for 23 with her off-spinners.

Dar shone with ball and bat in Pakistan’s win in a warm-up match against Bangladesh on Monday but Pakistan were beaten by hosts South Africa on Wednesday.

India’s batting failed in their first warm-up match against Australia before Richa Ghosh made 91 not out to set up a 52-run victory over Bangladesh on Wednesday.