Harmanpreet Kaur and Bismah Maroof

It was a great cricketing occasion at the AIT Ground in Bangkok when India faced old rivals Pakistan in the ACC Women’s Asia Cup. The two countries have been longstanding rivals and it was appropriate that the Land of Smiles had helped to bring the two neighbours closer together. India Women won a close contest by five wickets with four balls to spare as they gained their third win in three matches to top the league table.

The six leading teams from around Asia are taking part in the ACC Women’s Asia Cup T20 and both India and Pakistan had won their opening two matches and so the winner of this match would be closing in on a place in the final, to be played on Sunday 4th December.

India have never lost to Pakistan in Women’s One-Day Internationals but Pakistan have a better record in T20s against their biggest rivals having gained a narrow victory in Delhi during the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 by just two runs (DL method) when the two teams last met in March.

India have won every edition of the Asia Cup and this match was a repeat of the 2012 final when India beat Pakistan by 18 runs in Guangzhou, China so an exciting contest was anticipated and a good crowd was rewarded with a highly enjoyable morning’s cricket.

Ayesha Zafar played a dasher's innings

India won the toss and asked Pakistan to bat first and their openers made a bright start against the new ball with Ayesha Zafar hitting some early boundaries. The introduction of spin made batting more difficult as Javeria Khan, who had made 56* against Sri Lanka, fell to Ekta Bisht and captain Bismah Maroof was dismissed by Anuja Patil.

Nain Abidi batted sensibly as Ayesha Zafar reached 28 from 36 balls with four fours before she was caught behind off Patil. Iram Javed hit an impressive six over wide mid-off but the lower-order found run-scoring more difficult.

It was left to Abidi to get her side close to the 100-mark and she finished unbeaten on 37 from 41 balls as she showed it was possible to score at almost a run a ball without hitting boundaries. The total of 97 for 7 though competitive, was at least 15 runs below par, so effective had India’s spinners proved, Ekta Bisht taking 3 for 20 and Anuja Patel 2 for 12.

India’s regular openers Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana were back at the top of the order and were looking to repeat their partnership of 70 against Bangladesh. Left-handed Smriti hit a pair of boundaries but India were restricted to 23 in the first six overs and Smrithi was caught on the cover boundary for 14 as India lost their first wicket with the score on 27.

India were under pressure as they have a proud record in Women’s Asia Cup matches to preserve as they have never lost a match in either 50 or 20 over formats. Mithali Raj has an outstanding record in a long career in women’s international cricket and she rose to the challenge with a pair of boundaries which took India to 47 for 1 in 10 overs.

Harmanpreet Kaur

Meghna Singh was soon out lbw attempting to sweep and task became more difficult for India as Mithali’s elegant shots found the fielders and Veda Krishnamurthy was caught at mid-on.

Harmanpreet Kaur joined Mithali so that India’s T20 and ODI captains were batting together. They were content to wait for the bad balls and were rewarded as each put them away for boundaries.

At 70 for 3 from 15 overs the match was in the balance.

Mithali looked like she was enjoying the challenge and found it easier to play her shots with the return of medium pace. 21were needed from the last four overs but suddenly Pakistan claimed the prize wicket as Mithali was caught and bowled by Sana Mir for 36 from 57 balls.

17 were needed from 3 overs as Harmanpreet Kaur was joined by Jhulam Goswami. A sweep for two by the captain and a slog sweep to mid-wicket for four gave India some breathing space.

Eight runs from the 18th over and just nine more needed when Goswami came down the wicket and sliced a drive to cover. 89 for 5 but Harmanpreet expertly swept left-arm spinner Sadia Yousuf. Two dots to the new batter but Anuja Patil hit a vital two and India needed four runs from the last over.

Asmavia Iqbal to bowl the 20th over. Medium pace with the wicket-keeper standing up and Harmanpreet won the match with her version of the Dilscoop as she knelt to flick the ball to the fine leg boundary. Harmanpreet was deservedly named player of the match for her 26* and two wickets for 16.

India won a wonderful game by five wickets with just four balls left. The defending champions had managed to maintain their unbeaten record in the Women’s Asia Cup but Pakistan had shown they were by no means unbeatable.

In the day’s other match Nepal were outclassed by Bangladesh as the Bangladeshis made the highest total of the tournament so far by reaching 133 for 4 in their 20 overs as Sanjida Islam made 35 and Nighar Sultana 39 as they shared an opening partnership of 71. Nepal persevered well and will benefit from bowling their full 20 overs as newcomer Sangita Rai claimed two wickets.

The Panna Menace

The Nepal team are inexperienced at this level and try as they might could not bat out their 20 overs as they were bowled out for 41 in 17.3 overs, Fahima Khatun claiming outstanding figures of 4 for 8 as Bangladesh gained victory by the comprehensive margin of 92 runs. They will go into their next match against Pakistan with great confidence, likely to be a decider for a place in the Final on Sunday alongside India.

ACC Women's Asia Cup 2016: Day 4

India v Pakistan at AIT
India won the toss and elected to field
Pakistan: 97 for 7 off 20 overs (A.Zafar 28, N.Abidi 37*; A.Patil 2-12, H.Kaur 2-16, E.Bisht 3-20)
India: 98 for 5 off 19.2 overs (M.Raj 36, H.Kaur 26*; N.Rashid 2-11, S.Yousaf 2-27)
Player of the Match: Harmanpreet Kaur (India)

Bangladesh v Nepal at AIT
Bangladesh won the toss and chose to bat
Bangladesh: 133 for 4 off 20 overs (S.Islam 35, N.Sultana 39; S.Rai 2-31)
Nepal: 41 all out off 17.3 overs (F.Khatun 4-8)
Player of the Match: Fatima Khatun (Bangladesh)

Pictures by Abhilasha Agrawal

Tournament page

Filed November 29th, 2016