This match – like the one between China and Japan for bronze – had so much riding on it, that both teams' supporters could hardly enjoy themselves. Gold – Bangladesh’s first ever in the Asian Games, Pakistan’s first of this one and first since Busan in 2002 – was on the line. Going in, Pakistan were slight favourites if only because their women’s team had a bit more high-level match practise. Both teams were evenly matched. From the way they chased, dived and hurled themselves at the ball in the field, often three at a time, you could see how much they wanted to win: a gold medal at the Asian Games.

Put in, Bangladesh were positive from the start, showing themselves uncowed by the situation. There were emphatic early boundaries but Pakistan’s bowlers were at their best yet and Masooma Farooqi and Asmavia Khokhar got the ball to rise sharply off the excellent Guanggong wicket. But it was Pakistan’s spinners who did the real damage, Nida Rashid and Sana Mir got the ball to bite and fizz through, at times turning substantially. Salma Khatun, Bangladesh’s rugged captain held things together with a battling 24 off 31 but it was tough going for all but one of her colleagues (Rumana Ahmed, 16 off 18) out there. Pakistan held their catches and fielded like a team that could be Bangladesh.

Bangladesh finished on 92 all out off their 20, not a bad score but something around 110 is what they wanted. Nida Rashid finished with 3-16, Sana Mir 2-23, a catch and a run-out to each of them also.

Could whatever Pakistan had done with the ball, Bangladesh do too? Against any batsmen other than Nida Rashid and Javeria Wadood, undoubtedly. But these two batters were in awesome form, a couple of strokes by Nida Rashid had the crowd gasping in astonishment, such was their power and timing. A rasping drive off the impressive Lata Mondol by Javeria had both the bowler and umpire Sarika Prasad ultimately relieved to get out of the way.

After 10 overs, Pakistan were 53 for 0, needing 40 off the last 10, Bangladesh needing wickets. In other matches of the tournament, Pakistan hadn’t needed to chase too many, here, with the biggest ask yet, the crowd of around 1000 in the shaded stands got to see the full range of strokes Javeria and Wadood possessed.

Bangladesh kept at them, their spinners and pace-bowlers no less talented. Their fielding better than Pakistan’s. It was just that the batters, hitting through the infield or over the top, all around the ground, were a match for them. Wadood gave half a chance to Suktara Rahman at mid-on when on 32, off Tithy Sarkar, but that was it. Nida Rashid reached 50 of 41 balls and Pakistan romped home two balls later, with 26 balls to spare.

Bangladesh's coach Dipu Rai Choudhury said, "if we had won today, we would have been heroes. But we are still heroes."

“I cannot begin to say how thrilled I am we have won, it means a lot to us back home, many in our team have all kinds of pressure from their families not to play, now they’re gold medalists in the Asian Olympics,” said Pakistan's captain Sana Mir. Live on TV in Pakistan for the first time, these women have indeed become national heroes.

Good for them, thanks to cricket.

Asian Games 2010

Asian Games Final: Bangladesh Women v Pakistan Women
Pakistan won the toss and elected to field
Bangladesh: 92 off 20 overs (N.Rashid 3-16, S.Mir 2-23)
Pakistan: 93 for 0 off 15.4 overs (N.Rashid 51*, J.Wadood 39*)

Tournament page

Filed November 19th, 2010