Disciplined bowling and intent-filled batting the key to Pakistan's success

S Sudarshanan
New Update
Disciplined bowling and intent-filled batting the key to Pakistan's success

Diana Baig (c) celebrates the fall of a wicket with her teammates. © ICC

“I’m really

surprised with this award. I think Diana deserved it more than me.”

Javeria Khan was adjudged the player of the match in Pakistan's opening match of the T20 World Cup against West Indies. She had scored 35 in 28 balls – more about it later – while Baig had taken two wickets right at the start to peg back West Indies' belligerent top-order.

The right-arm seamer struck first ball dismissing Hayley Matthews LBW with a hooping out-swinger. It was a dream start for her as well as Pakistan. Had Matthews used the Decision Review System (DRS), the decision would have been overturned, but that is a discussion for some other time. This is all about Baig’s control and accuracy.

High on the early success, she almost managed to get rid of Lee-Ann Kirby in her second over, but a drop by Aiman Anwer - who came charging in from fine leg - denied her that opportunity. However, the right-armer came back in her next over, managing to get rid of Kirby – the West Indies opener looking to heave one to the on-side and only getting a leading edge that landed in the hands of Muneeba Ali at point.

ALSO READ: 'Munster' Muneeba Ali ready to have fun and hit big

In the lead up to the T20 World Cup, Pakistan played six T20Is in 2019, apart from the warm-ups – three each against Bangladesh and England. Baig didn’t have a bagful of wickets to show in those outings – five wickets in those matches – but there was a conscious effort to pitch the ball up. In Kuala Lumpur against England, since there was not much movement available, she often shortened her length and that meant it was easy fodder for the likes of Amy Jones and Danielle Wyatt.

It was not the

case at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday (February 26). Baig was getting the ball

to move a touch, which was not allowing either of Stafanie Taylor or, Kirby

first, and then Deandra Dottin to free their arms or get the ball away. Result?

Economical figures of 3-0-6-2 in the power play! Baig and Pakistan were up and

running, truly.

“I was happy with the way I bowled at the start, but not so with my last over,” said Baig after the innings. She was taken for 13 runs in her final over, with Shemaine Campbelle hitting a six and a four.

"Actually we had already done our homework and our preparation was suitable for the Australian conditions. That's the reason we came early over here, to adapt to conditions over here," said bowling coach Saleem Jaffer.

"Actually, my focus was for them, what I said to my bowlers - let's work on the variations, slower ones, yorkers and target bowling. What's suitable for bowlers, where you pitch the ball, length ball, what's the length ball. I saw the couple of matches in Perth. That's how we work over there, and it's worked, and I'm happy with Diana and other bowlers, too."

Cut to, the


Bowling is considered to be Pakistan’s stronger suit, be it in women’s cricket or men’s. Thus, even a chase of 125 would never be straightforward - Pakistan could certainly make heavy weather of it.


Pakistan had last successfully chased down a total in a T20 World Cup match

back in 2016.

But this wasn’t

any Pakistan team. This was a young side with ‘intent’ writ large.

That Javeria isn’t a youngster is secondary. In the company of Muneeba Ali, who was recalled to Pakistan’s squad ahead of this competition, she began slowly. It was an up-and-down surface, as acknowledged by Nasser Hussain as well as Heather Knight in the first game of the day.

Khan and Ali were unable to hit through the in-field. Shamilia Connell and Shakera Selman hardly gave anything away - the duo managing the odd boundary here and there.

Pakistan – 28 for no loss in four overs.

ALSO READ: How 'fearless' Nida Dar became Pakistan's best T20 player

Then came the over that broke the shackles – Chinelle Henry’s. Javeria first pulled one over mid-wicket before disdainfully carving the next over backward point. A ball later, Ali creamed one through covers to take 14 off the over.

There was no

turning back then. The pair went on to add over fifty runs for the opening

wicket, a first for Pakistan in T20Is since January 2015. It was also just the

second time the openers had added over fifty for them in T20 World Cups.

But soon, Javeria fell to a shot she later said “I should not have played” and the partnership was broken at 58. Javeria was walking back having made 35 in 28 balls.

Bismah Maroof then walked in and got busy. Her knock was a microcosm of the entire Pakistan innings. It wasn’t about the big shots or the hits to the boundary at all. It was, in fact, something Pakistan have almost always been criticized for: their running between the wickets.

Maroof made 38 in 37 balls with just four fours. First with Ali and then with Nida Dar, she rotated the strike regularly. Her 50-run alliance with Dar sealed for Pakistan, what ended up being a comfortable win - a result that can be considered an upset in the context of this tournament.

Perhaps Baig deserved the player of the match award more. But the win wouldn't have been achieved without the batters stepping up, like they did at the Manuka Oval on this memorable Wednesday.

Pakistan’s win has thrown Group B wide open. Will it mean that they advance past the group stage for the first time?