Pakistan 137 for 6 (Dar 56*, Deepti 3-27) beat India 124 (Ghosh 26, Sandhu 3-30, Dar 2-23) by 13 runs
Pakistan recovered from a surprise defeat against Thailand and inflicted a thrilling 13-run defeat on India in their Women’s T20 Asia Cup clash at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.
Thanks to the 76-run stand between Dar and captain Bismah Maroof, Pakistan posted 137 for 6 and then had India on the mat at 91 for 7. But Richa Ghosh, batting at No. 8 after walking off the field in the first innings due to a heat-related issue, hit 26 off just 13 balls to raise India’s hopes. But it was a task too long eventually for her.
Opting to bat, Pakistan openers Muneeba Ali and Sidra Ameen made their attacking intentions clear pretty early. Under pressure after batting let them down against Thailand, the pair looked to change their approach and was eager to put the bowlers off their lengths. Ameen used the crease well to slash Renuka Singh for a four following which Muneeba used her feet to come down and swipe Deepti Sharma past mid-on. India’s disciplined bowling meant that the efforts of the duo did not bear fruits.
Pooja Vastrakar then had Ameen nicking at one outside off before Deepti, in her third over inside the powerplay, picked up two wickets in the space of three balls. She first deceived Muneeba in the air to have her stumped before trapping Omaima Sohail lbw after she missed the sweep. In the interim, there was a dropped chance of Sohail as well.
Pakistan were reduced to 33 for 3 in the first six overs.
Maroof, Dar lead Pakistan’s recovery
It was then upto the experienced duo of Maroof and Dar to bring Pakistan back on track. The only players in the line-up with over 100 T20Is each to their name, they showed their wares against India’s spinners. Dar was the attacker as she first swept Radha Yadav, brought in for Sneh Rana, through backward square leg before using her feet to slink down the track and hit Rajeshwari Gayakwad over mid-on.
Dar got off the blocks pretty quickly, hitting a four and a six off Dayalan Hemalatha, even as Maroof took her time to get her eye in. The Pakistan captain ended her boundary drought via a pull off Pooja Vastrakar through square leg. In a bid to up the ante further, Maroof mistimed a scoop-turned-to-ramp straight to short third.
Thereon, despite India making regular inroads from the other end – they picked up three wickets for just 30 runs in the last five overs, Dar moved quickly to bring up her sixth T20I half-century and in the process got Pakistan to 137.
In reply, Sabbhineni Meghana and Smriti Mandhana struggled to force the pace off the pitch against the Pakistan spinners, despite Meghana hitting a six and a four off Dar and Sadia Iqbal, brought in for the injured Diana Baig, respectively. Meghana then sliced one to cover when she tried to repeat it against Nashra Sandhu‘s left-arm spin.
Rodrigues then struggled to get going despite getting a couple of chances and top-edged a swipe off Dar to backward point. Even as Hemalatha got herself going from one end, Mandhana – after surviving a stamping chance – holed out to long-on on the very next ball off Sandhu to leave India in a spot at 50 for 3 in ten overs.
Vastrakar, sent in at No. 5 ahead of Harmanpreet, was then run-out following a mix-up with Hemalatha before the latter was bowled in an attempt to play a cheeky paddle off legspinner Tuba Hassan. With the asking rate well over nine, Harmanpreet and Deepti added 26 off 19 balls for the sixth wicket before Deepti top-edged a sweep. Soon Harmanpreet failed to clear Aliya Riaz, who took three crucial catches towards the end, at long-on to leave India reeling.
Ghosh then used her big-hitting prowess to smash Sandhu for back-to-back sixes in the 18th over before hitting one more off Iqbal in the next. But the target was always a long shot. She departed in the 19th over, leaving India needing 18 off the last over with one wicket remaining. Aiman Anwer cleaned up Rajeshwari Gayakwad with two balls remaining in the chase to secure a win for Pakistan.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo