Amy Jones acknowledges the crowd after her half century. © PCB

It was story as usual in the first T20I between Pakistan and England at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur as the latter went 1-0 up in the three-match series, winning by 29 runs on Tuesday (December 17). England had a new hero, Pakistan had the same old problem.

The penultimate over of the power play showed the bossy and authoritative attitude that Amy Jones displayed in the match with the bat. Aliya Riaz was introduced into the attack and she delivered a full ball outside off. Jones drove it classically through covers. Then there was a dot. The third ball was on the stumps and Jones got an inside edge past leg stump to fine leg. And then there was another dot.

Riaz then bowled a length ball that was thumped over mid-wicket for a boundary before the final ball was crashed through cover-point for four more. 16 runs were taken off that over. Jones clearly relished the chance to open the attack and happily hit her way to a 38-ball half century. She added 58 runs for the second wicket with Tammy Beaumont, who made 30 after coming in at no.3.

Syeda Aroob Shah, the leg spinner, making her T20I debut, was on the money straight away. She generously flighted the ball and didn’t lose heart even after taken for a boundary. That was seen in the way she got back next ball to dismiss Jones. In her entire spell, she was taken for only one six and a four. She eventually finished with one for 21.

Post the departure of Jones and Beaumont, Natalie Sciver (34 not out) and Katherine Brunt (18) pushed England ahead, before Heather Knight, batting at no. 6, took 13 off the final over bowled by Diana Baig, that went for 14. The tourists, as a result, had  posted 154 on the board, a score that didn’t look a possibility when the spinners were bowling.

Nida Dar picked up a couple of wickets – including one off her very second ball to dismiss Danielle Wyatt – and conceded 30 runs.

In riposte, the start for Pakistan was disastrous. Nahida Khan and Javeria Khan both departed in the first over delivered by Freya Davies. While the ball seemed to stop a bit in Nahida’s dismissal, due to which she seemed to be early in the stroke, Javeria made room to explore the off side only to lose her sticks.

Bismah Maroof then found an ally in Omaima Sohail for 46 runs, before Sophie Ecclestone broke through. Sohail tried to take the left-arm spinner on and miscued it to mid-wicket for 21. Then followed a phase where Pakistan lost four wickets for just 23 runs. In the interim, Sarah Glenn picked up her maiden T20I wicket.

But thanks to Maroof, who scored her 11th T20I fifty, Pakistan were still in the hunt, well, remotely, courtesy a 52-run association that Maroof had with Sidra Nawaz (22). They needed 42 off the final four overs. But England’s bowling was too good to let it slip, even though Glenn’s final over went for 10. Sciver then picked up a couple in the 18th over, which pretty much sealed the deal. Maroof was the final one to be out, after scoring 60 off 58 balls.

Brief Scores: England 154/4 in 20 overs (Amy Jones 53, Natalie Sciver 34*; Nida Dar 2/30, Syeda Aroob Shah 1/21, Anam Amin 1/31) beat Pakistan 125 all out in 18.4 overs (Bismah Maroof 60, Sidra Nawaz 22; Sophie Ecclestone 3/21, Natalie Sciver 2/12, Freya Davies 2/18) by 29 runs. PoTM: Amy Jones