England were at their dominant best in the first ODI. © PCB

The momentum Pakistan built at home was interrupted at their ‘other home’, Kuala Lumpur. In the ongoing ICC Women’s Championship ODI series, the Asian-side failed to grab two early points following their 75-run defeat in the opening match at the hands of England, who have already qualified for ICC Women’s World Cup 2021.

To keep their chances of direct qualification for the 2021 event alive, Pakistan will have to create history, and beat a team they have never overcome before!

In the first ODI, chasing a mammoth 285, skipper Bismah Maroof led from the front with a fluent 69, but she failed to receive any support from the rest of the line-up.

While the total may have been challenging, Pakistan had inched close to the 200-run mark in 40 overs. With five wickets in hand, they could have given England a real scare, but a late-order collapse – in which they lost five wickets for merely 23 runs – meant they were bundled out for 209 inside 45 overs. The dismissal of Maroof sent a a sense of panic into the dressing room which none of the batters were able to handle.

The return of all-rounder Nida Dar following her stint with Sydney Thunder at the recently-concluded WBBL did little to help Pakistan stop the visitors’ rampage. When the pressure was on, ‘Lady Boom Boom’ played cautiously, only to be dismissed LBW before she was able to do any real damage.

Aside from their batting and poor execution with the ball, Pakistan’s fielding also let them down. The fielders missed several chances – both catches and run outs – letting England off the hook quite early in the day. That poor display only piled the pressure on the bowlers who already seemed bereft of ideas at that point. If they are to challenge the might of England, Pakistan need to dig deeper and work on all three departments.

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In stark contrast, England had several players who took charge of the game and led their team back to winnings ways, thereby maintaining their impeccable record against Pakistan.

The first ODI was a memorable one for the likes of Danielle Wyatt, who notched up her maiden century, Katherine Brunt, who became the first England bowler to break into the 150 ODI wickets club, and Sarah Glenn, who took a couple of wickets on debut.

Despite having a brilliant day at the office – thanks to Pakistan’s fielding mishaps – England still need to work on their plans especially when it comes to batting. Heather Knight, the skipper, gave a nod to Wyatt to open and held wicket-keeper batter Amy Jones down to number five following her poor Ashes returns. Wyatt lived up to the expectations of her skipper, getting England off to a flier, but it remains to be seen whether she can carry maintain that run of form in the longer version.

Their middle order too fell to pieces after a splendid opening stand which meant Pakistan were able to restrict them below a total of 300 when it looked like they wouldn’t settle for anything less.

The second ODI, which is scheduled on Thursday (December 12), marks the 100th game for Knight. Can the England skipper secure the series on her special day or will Pakistan be able to pull up their socks and win their first-ever match against England and earn their much-needed two ICC Women’s Championship points?

Squads:

Pakistan: Bismah Maroof (c), Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Aroob Shah, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Javeria Khan, Kaynat Hafeez, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Sidra Amin, and Sidra Nawaz (wk).

England: Heather Knight (c), Amy Jones (wk), Anya Shrubsole, Danni Wyatt, Fran Wilson, Freya Davies, Kate Cross, Katherine Brunt, Kirstie Gordon, Lauren Winfield, Mady Villiers, Nat Sciver, Sarah Glenn, Sophie Ecclestone, and Tammy Beaumont.

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