India’s stranglehold over Pakistan in big tournaments shows no sign of abating as the women’s team beat their arch-rivals by five wickets in a thrilling round robin league match of the Twenty20 Asia Cup in Bangkok on Tuesday. Set 98 to win, India reached their target with just four balls remaining, thanks to an all-round display from captain Harmanpreet Kaur who took two wickets before scoring an unbeaten 26.
The win comes on the heels of the International Cricket Council docking India six points for skipping three matches against Pakistan between August 1 and October 31, 2016 in the ICC Women’s Championship. The move had left the BCCI so angry that they had threatened to pull out the men’s team from the Champions Trophy next year.
Electing to field, India rode the spin bowling of Ekta Bisht and Anuja Patel to run through Pakistan’s top order before Kaur, a medium pacer, took two wickets to rule out any chance of a late comeback. Pakistan finished on 97/7 from their quota of 20 overs. Only three Pakistan batswomen --- Ayesha Zafar (28), Nain Abidi (37 n.o) and Iram Javed (10) were able to get to double figures as the rest of the batting failed to put up any kind of resistance against a thoroughly professional bowling display by India.
Slow left-arm spinner Bisht was the pick of the bowlers with 3/20 while Patil, an off-break bowler, conceded just 12 from her quota of four overs apart from taking two wickets. While chasing, opener Mithali Raj gave India a solid platform with a 27-run partnership with Smriti Mandhana before Mandhana was dismissed for 14. India then lost two quick wickets within the space of five runs before Kaur joined to lend some stability.
India suffered a big blow when Raj, on 36, was caught and bowled by off-spinner Sana Mir in the 17th over. India were still left with a pretty easy equation of nine runs from the last 12 balls. Jhulan Goswami was dismissed in the first ball of the 19th over but Kaur guided India to a famous win with Patil (2) at the other end. India are so far unbeaten in this tournament, having beaten Bangladesh (by 64 runs) and Thailand (by 9 wickets) earlier. India are scheduled to play Sri Lanka and Nepal on Thursday and Friday respectively. The final is slated to be held on Sunday.