Indian women's cricket team paid the price for a poor batting display against arch-rivals Pakistan, losing the crucial group league fixture by two runs via Duckworth-Lewis method in the ICC World T20, in New Delhi, on Saturday.
After posting a meagre 96 for seven, India started badly in their defence but pulled the plug when it mattered and reduced Pakistan to 77 for six in 16 overs when the heavens opened up.
The D/L par score was 75 at that point of time which enabled Sana Mir's girls to remain two runs ahead.
At that stage, Pakistan needed 20 off 24 balls to win, but the downpour brought proceedings to a grinding halt and the match never started within the cut-off time of 6:55 pm.
However India lost the match because of their batswomen, who were simply unable to score of a disciplined Pakistan bowling attack that forced the hosts to play dot balls equivalent to 10 overs.
In pursuit of the paltry target of 97, Nahida Khan (14) and Sidra Ameen (26) gave Pakistan a rollicking start and reached the 50-run mark in 10th over for the loss of just three wickets.
That's when India came back into the match with some tight bowling but in the end what did them in were some poor fielding and a missed stumping chance by Sushma Verma off Muneeba Ali (12 not out). Had she pulled off that regulation stumping, Pakistan would have been seven down and as per D/L par score India would have won the match by one run.
Earlier sent into bat, Indian eves found it tough to rotate the strike, leave aside hitting boundaries and sixes against some disciplined bowling and brilliant fielding from Pakistan to manage a paltry 96 for seven.
Indian batswomen's struggle can be gauged from the fact that they scored just seven runs for the loss of two wickets in the six overs of Powerplay. Pakistan skipper Sana Mir gave the new ball to Anam Amin (1/9), who picked up four wickets against West Indies in the last match and the left-arm spinner lived upto her skipper’s expectations when she dismissed opener VR Vanitha in her second and innings' third over caught at mid-wicket Asmavia Iqbal. Right-arm pacer Iqbal then had Smriti Mandhana leg before in the next over to reduce the hosts to 5 for 2.
In a real spot of bother, captain Mithali Raj (16 off 35) and Harmanpreet Kaur (16 off 29) tried their best to stabilise the innings but failed to get going scoring only 29 runs off 47 balls to increase the pressure on the batswomen, who followed them.
In total the Indian girls found the fence only six times and cleared the rope just once. Such was Pakistan's disciplined bowling effort that it took India 7.4 overs to find their first boundary, which came off Mithali's bat. At the halfway mark, India managed to totter to 27 for 2. Barring the lone boundary, it was a struggle for Mithali in the middle and it came to an end in the 12th over when, in trying to break the shackles, she was holed out by Sidra Ameen at midwicket off Nida Dar's bowling. Harmanpreet too followed suit soon in search of quick runs, caught by Sidra Ameen at long-off off Sadia Yousuf’s bowling.
Veda Krishnamurthy, who came after the dismissal of Mithali, however looked in great nick and scored quick 24 off 19 balls with the help of three fours to give some momentum to the Indian innings. But Veda was snared by Sana off her own bowling in the 17th over to dash India’s hopes of getting past the 100-run mark. Towards the end, Jhulan Goswami (14 off 14) and Shikha Pandey (10 off 7) played good hands to help India get close to 100. Shikha, in fact, hit India’s lone six of the match.
India Women innings
Mithali Raj c Ameen b Dar 16
Vellaswamy Vanitha c Mir b Amin 2
Smriti Mandhana lbw b Iqbal 1
Harmanpreet Kaur c Ameen b Yousuf 16
Veda Krishnamurthy c & b Mir 24
Jhulan Goswami run out 14
Anuja Patil run out 3
Shikha Pandey not out 10
Extras: (LB-1 W-9) 10
Total: (For 7 wkts in 20 overs) 96
Bowling: Anam Amin 4-0-9-1, Asmavia Iqbal 4-0-13-1, Sana Mir 4-0-14-1, Sadia Yousuf 3-0-24-1, Bismah Maroof 2-0-12-0, Nida Dar 3-0-23-1.
Women innings (target: 76 runs from 16 overs)
Nahida Khan c Kaur b Pandey 14
Sidra Ameen b Gayakwad 26
Bismah Maroof c Goswami b Kaur 5
Muneeba Ali not out 12
Iram Javed c Raj b Goswami 10
Asmavia Iqbal run out 5
Sana Mir run out 0 Nida Dar not out 0
Extras: (B-1 W-4) 5
Total: (For 6 wkts in 16 overs) 77
Bowling: Anuja Patil 3-0-14-0, Rajeshwar Gayakwad 2-0-11-1, Shikha Pandey 2-0-14-1, Jhulan Goswami 4-0-14-1, Poonam Yadav 3-0-14-0, Harmanpreet Kaur 2-0-9-1.
Result: Pakistan Women won by 2 runs (D/L method)