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The Report by Amol Karhadkar in Cuttack
February 7, 2013
India 195 for 4 (Raj 103*) beat Pakistan 192 for 7 (Dar 68*, Abidi 58) by six wickets
Mithali Raj's fourth ODI century, which came one match too late, helped India maintain their unbeaten record against Pakistan and end their World Cup campaign with a consolation victory. The six-wicket win helped India end the tournament at seventh place.
No team had chased more than 105 at the Barabati Stadium during the tournament. However, once the Pakistan batting eventually clicked, the sizeable crowd - expectedly the biggest turnout so far - knew that India had to bat very well in order to chase down a respectable target of 193.
India lost Poonam Raut cheaply for the second time in as many games, falling over while attempting an on drive, trapped in front of the wicket. Mithali walked in at No.3 and looked in sound touch and though she had started off on a similar note against Sri Lanka, she made sure she stayed till the end.
When Raj and the left-handed opener Thirush Kamini were looking set for a big partnership, the opener perished, holing out to Sana Mir at mid-off off Bismah Maroof with the score on 51. Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur were untroubled by the Pakistan bowlers. Raj did the bulk of the scoring, charging down the wicket and lofting the offspinner Mir straight and following it up with a square cut through point off the next ball.
Four balls after the halfway mark, Kaur perished, thanks to a run out. Shortly after, the offspinner Nida Dar sneaked through Sulakshana Naik's defence to leave India at 108 for 4. Raj found an able partner in Reema Malhotra. While Malhotra focused on rotating the strike, Raj went after the Pakistan bowlers at will.
Once India crossed the 150 mark, Raj cut loose and eventually reached her century to robust cheers from the crowd after pulling Dar for a one-bounce boundary through midwicket. India thus overhauled the target with four overs to spare.
Pakistan's decision to bat first appeared surprising, considering they came into this game on the back of totals of 84, 104 and 81. However, fifties by Nain Abidi and Nida Dar, and the duo's 80-run stand for the fifth wicket helped Pakistan post a better total.
The pair not only resurrected Pakistan's innings but also helped them register their highest ever total in World Cup matches, also their fifth-highest total overall. Despite losing Abidi while attempting to push the scoring, Dar remained unbeaten, raising the third-highest individual score for a Pakistani in international women's cricket.
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