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Pakistan women beat India in rain-hit thriller

Pakistan women beat India in  rain-hit thriller

NEW DELHI: Before the start of the contest, Mithali Raj and Sana Mir insisted that they would like to step away from the hype and focus on the game at hand.

Sana’s side was successful in executing what the captain had hoped for. India, on the other hand, disappointed on the day as Pakistan grabbed the much-hyped contest by the scruff of the neck and shook out a favourable result by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

The result of their dominance was a two-run win in a rather anticlimactic finish as rain intervened after 16 overs with Pakistan at 77 for 6 at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Saturday. Anam Amin, who finished with excellent figures of 1 for 9 from her four overs, won her second player of the match award in as many games.

On a decent batting track at the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in a Group B clash, it was an equal proportion of India’s batters faltering as much as Pakistan’s bowlers being clinical as the hosts finished with just 96 runs on the board. Sana opened with Anam Amin, who bowled stump-to-stump and kept her line tight. Asmavia Iqbal, the pacer, did the same at the other end as they stifled the Indian batters, who failed to clear the infield in the powerplay overs.

India, that had been quite accustomed to their top three giving them rollicking starts, found themselves in uncharted territory after losing VR Vanitha and the in-form Smriti Mandana within four overs, silencing a crowd that had turned up in healthy numbers. Mandana, who had a great run-in to the tournament, has managed scores of 0 and 1 in India’s World T20 games so far.

Pakistan’s bowlers were relentless and gave nothing away as India ended the powerplay with just seven runs on the board - the lowest score across women’s T20Is.

The deft Harmanpreet Kaur, who had scored a beautifully-constructed 40 off 29 balls against Bangladesh in the opening game, struggled to clear the infield, taking nine balls to get off the mark. Raj then holed out the next ball, into the waiting hands of Sidra Amin for a 35-ball 16.

It was now left to India’s middle order to step up. Veda Krishnamurthy came in and started getting the scoreboard ticking. Just as the momentum started to swing, Harmanpreet holed out to long off. Veda kept chipping away and took Nida Dar for two boundaries in the 15th over, but her resistance ended when Sana returned for her last over to dismiss Veda for a 19-ball 24.

Carrying forward momentum, Pakistan’s batters’ positive intent was evident right from the opening over when Nahida Khan smashed Anuja Patil for back-to-back boundaries. What followed, despite the blip of Nahida handing a dolly to Harmanpreet at mid on, was aggressive running between the wickets where singles were converted to doubles. Bad balls were punished deservedly — six fours were hit in the powerplay with most of the scoring done on the offside.

While Pakistan kept trotting away, Jhulan Goswami took an clever catch, timing her jump at mid off to perfection, getting Bismah Maroof for 5 at the halfway stage with Pakistan at 50 for 3.

Raj then plucked out a beauty catch at short extra cover where she threw herself at the ball to clasp it, dismissing Iram Javed for 10. Two run outs in the next over tipped the scales and brought India right into the game. The pressure was on Pakistan once again to finish the game but rain pelted down with the 5000-odd spectators scurrying for cover. The D/L method then gave the match to Sana Sana’s charges and took a victory lap to celebrate it.

Brief scores: India Women 96/7 in 20 overs (Veda Krishnamurthy 24, Harmanpreet Kaur 16; Anam Amin 1-9, Asmavia Iqbal 1-13) lost to Pakistan Women 77/6 in 16 overs (Sidra Ameen 26, Nahida Khan 14; Jhulan Goswami 1-14, Harmanpreet Kaur 1-9) by 2 runs (DLS Method).

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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