Nobody really gave Pakistan a chance before their T20 World Cup opener against West Indies on Wednesday (February 26). But in the end, the Women in Green emerged winners with an emphatic eight-wicket victory. Not only Pakistan struck early removing Windies’ top three inside the power play, but the batters also showed great composure in their chase easily picking the opposition bowling with ease.
Come Friday (February 28), the Bismah Maroof-led side will be once again on the field, this time with an aim to conquer England at Manuka Oval in Canberra. Although it seems quite tough considering the form England are in, nothing is impossible on the day. Pakistan should also give credit to young opener Muneeba Ali and Javeria Khan for the start they gave against Windies which actually laid the foundation for the Maroof and Nida Dar later on as they went in their chase.
The likes of Diana Baig, Dar and Anam Amin were brilliant as they kept the Windies batters in check throughout the innings besides picking up wicket at regular intervals. They hardly gave anyone to open their arms and when West Indies skipper Stafanie Taylor and Shemaine Campbelle actually did, it was already too late.
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Against England too, Pakistan would hope for a similar kind of performance, especially against the likes of Heather Knight (108 not out) and Natalie Sciver (59 not out) whose 169-run third wicket stand against Thailand on Wednesday lit up the tournament.
“Pakistan already looked like they’ve improved from December,” said Lauren Winfield.
“This tournament is giving teams with a lot of slower bowling that don’t often score huge totals an opportunity, because they’re on good conditions with fast outfields. Often when you tour the subcontinent, if they don’t have a power game they find it harder. You get really good value for your shots in Australia. Those batting line-ups and those teams have come to life.”
It can be easily said that Sciver and Knight’s knocks came against an opposition who are making their T20 World Cup debut and have lesser experience in playing big teams but credit should be given to both the batters as they took on the mantle at a point when England were reeling at 7/2 in the second over.
The opening has been a concern for England since the T20 tri-series earlier this month. Baring Knight and Sciver, their middle-order too hasn’t been consistent — performing in bits and pieces – something Pakistan bowlers would like to exploit. Pakistan’s win against the Windies really opened up the Group B and it will be interesting to see which two qualify for the semis.
England: Heather Knight (c), Anya Shrubsole, Danielle Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Amy Ellen Jones, Natalie Sciver, Lauren Winfield, Kate Cross, Fran Wilson, Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn, Freya Davies, Mady Villiers.
Pakistan: Javeria Khan, Bismah Maroof (c), Diana Baig, Nida Dar, Iram Javed, Anam Amin, Sidra Nawaz, Aliya Riaz, Muneeba Ali, Aiman Anwer, Omaima Sohail, Fatima Sana, Sadia Iqbal, Syeda Aroob Shah, Ayesha Naseem.