S.M. Hussain in Karachi
On a beautiful sunny day, the ‘DJ’ was playing songs to entertain the crowd and in spite of the weekly holiday, school girls clad in their uniforms were cheerful as usual. Amid this festive Sunday atmosphere Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat.
Javeria Khan didn’t stay for too long in the middle and got out to a spectacular one-handed effort by Afy Fletcher. The captain, Bismah Maroof, continued with her good form and made 19 off 16 balls; but it was Omaima Sohail’s innings (28) which gave momentum to Pakistan’s innings.
Omaima looked lacklustre in the first two matches, but the management persevered with her, which paid dividends today. In the beginning she was a bit jittery but then she played some lusty strokes to gain her confidence – so much so that she came down the wicket and heaved a huge six to the mid-on boundary.
But it was a 67-run partnership between Nida Dar (53) and Aliya Riaz (24*) which enabled the Pakistan team to post a winning total – 150 on the board. Dar was flamboyant – in the 19th over she bisected the gap between cover and mid-off not once but twice to hit two 4s in that over. Her innings came to an end when she attempted an impossible second run and was run out.
In reply West Indies had to face an early blow – Kycia Knight (0) was stumped by the agile Pakistan wicket-keeper, Sidra Nawaz, off the bowling of left-arm spinner Anum Amin. Deandra Dottin mostly deals in boundaries and today wasn’t an exception – she hit four 6s and three 4s in her quickfire knock – one of her sixes going straight into the hands of Pakistan men’s team captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who was sitting in the VIP enclosure. (One wonders, how often this can happen – perhaps one in a million? And people in the stadium watched the spectacle in utter astonishment!)
Dottin (46) tried to hit out one too many times and mistimed a pull shot to be caught at deep square-leg by Nida Dar. Nida took one more catch to dismiss Natasha McLean (26) at long-on and celebrated with her signatory ‘Afridi’ celebration.
In the penultimate over Sana Mir took the vital wicket of Chinelle Henry. Henry came down the wicket but missed the ball completely and wicket-keeper Sidra Nawaz dislodged the bails to complete an outstanding performance behind the stumps, stumping three West Indies batters.
At the end of the 20th over the visitors fell short of the target by 12 runs. Although the hosts – Pakistan – lost the series 2-1, for them victory in the last match on a festive Sunday afternoon was a fitting end to the series.
More importantly, the message has been sent again to the world that it’s safe to play cricket in Pakistan. Thank you, West Indies, for providing the opportunity to Pakistan’s young generation to watch a live international cricket match in the stadium.
S.M. Hussain is a freelance cricket writer and journalist based in Pakistan. He tweets from @CaughtAtPoint.