S.M. Hussain in Karachi
The last time West Indies Women visited Pakistan in 2004, they had a long itinerary – one Test and seven ODIs; this time around they’re here for three T20s only. The rest of the games – three ODIs – will be played in Pakistan’s adopted home, the UAE.
For a cricket-mad nation which is taking baby steps towards reviving international cricket in the country, the significance of West Indies Women’s visit is far greater than a mere few T20 games. No wonder the visitors are being treated like Caribbean queens.
It was a rare gloomy January morning in Karachi, but an hour before the start of play, to the delight of many cheering college and school girls present at the stadium, the sun broke through. West Indies won the toss and elected to bat at the South End Club, which happens to be the second Test centre of the city.
Deandra Dottin and Kycia Knight opened the innings. When Knight was on 8, she scooped a ‘dolly’ to square leg off the bowling of Nashra, but Dottin was savage from the word go.
Dottin was dropped on 24 and this folly proved a costly one for Pakistan. Apart from that mis-hit, Dottin looked a million dollars; though she batted right-handed, her sixes were reminiscent of Chris Gayle’s. She reached her fifty in style by hitting a huge six over the mid-on boundary.
Chedean Nation wasn’t too far behind – her 50 runs came off just 35 balls. From 51/2 the West Indies team finished with 160/2 at the end of their allotted overs. The unbeaten partnership of 109 runs between Dottin (90) and Nation (50) almost sealed the match. Except for the left-arm spin of Nashra Sandhu, none of the Pakistan bowlers were able to restrict the visitors.
The target of 160 in twenty overs would pose a great challenge to any team, let alone to Pakistan, who are hardly known for their six-hitting.
Both openers – Sidra Ameen and Javeria Khan – were back in the hutch in the first six overs. The southpaw Bismah Maroof plays with a high back-lift and when she times the ball right, it reaches the boundary rope in no time. She looked busy and confident; she played scoop shots and reverse sweeps with ease.
Amid all the flippant batting strokes played from the other end, the captain Bismah was the lone warrior in this unsuccessful run chase. Except for Bismah (38) and Javeria (19) none of the Pakistan batters were able to reach double figures. The home side were eventually bundled out for 89 runs in the eighteenth over.
On a slow pitch the twin pair of Afy Fletcher and Anisa Mohammed made things extremely difficult for the Pakistan batters; both bowlers conceded just 17 runs each in their allotted four overs, with an economy rate of 4.25.
In the post-match interaction with the media the Pakistan coach, Mark Coles, looked quite disappointed with his team’s performance, saying: “We have a very disappointed group out there, and they should be.” Regarding the upcoming matches he added: “We just have to stick to our plans and we need to take some responsibility.”
So, the series has started with a thumping win by 71 runs for the visitors. Perhaps the victory margin also suggests the shape of things to come.
S.M. Hussain is a freelance cricket writer and journalist based in Pakistan. He tweets from @CaughtAtPoint.