India comfortably wins over Pakistan to reach the finals. ©ACC

In what was virtually a semi-final of the Asia Cup 2018, India cruised to a comfortable 7 wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan, chasing down 72 runs with 23 balls to spare.

Having won the toss, Pakistan elected to bat first, but were unable to build any solid partnership that would help post a competitive total on the board. In an innings where the highest score was Sana Mir’s 20* of 38 balls, the Pakistani batters struggled as Nahida Khan, with her 18 runs off 27 balls, was the only other person to reach double figures. The wickets fell regularly, and the Pakistani batters’ failure to score at a high strike rate meant they were restricted to a measly 72/7.

For India, spinner Ekta Bisht did the most damage to the Pakistani line-up. She finished with the impressive figures of 3-14 from her four overs, reaching the milestone of 50 T20I wickets in the process. Shikha Pandey, Anuja Patel, Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma also claimed a scalp each.

Defending such a low total would only have been possible if Pakistan took wickets early in the Indian innings, and continued to take them at regular intervals. Anam Amin got them off to the start they had hoped for, dismissing both Mithali Raj and Deepti Sharma for ducks, to reduce India to 5/2. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (34 off 49), then consolidated, along with opener Smriti Mandhana(38 off 40) to guide the team to a comfortable 7 wicket win, with 23 balls to spare.

Nashra Sandhu was the only other bowler to take a wicket for Pakistan, with her scalp of Mandhana.

This victory means that India qualifies for the Asia Cup final, where they will most probably play Bangladesh unless there is another major upset and Malaysia defeats Bangladesh. This is highly improbable, but we have had some shocking results in this tournament anyway, what’s to say one more isn’t around the corner? If Bangladesh does indeed lose, it will come down to the net run rate between them and Pakistan.