Pakistan edge thriller by two runs in rainy end
Pakistan 77 for 6 (Ameen 26, Gayakwad 1-11) beat India 96 for 7 (Krishnamurthy 24, Amin 1-9, Iqbal 1-13) by two runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan Women nearly saw victory slip away as they made a mess of a straightforward chase of 97 against India Women, but good deeds upfront with the bat and a torrential downpour in Delhi helped them escape with a two-run win on the Duckworth-Lewis method. The players went off the field with Pakistan precariously placed at 77 for 6 in 16 overs, and gusty winds that brought with it a storm subsided India's hopes of a heist as their Women's World T20 campaign received a body blow.
Pakistan were cruising high and happy at 44 for 1 in eight overs courtesy Sidra Ameen's fiery start, before Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Harmanpreet Kaur picked up two wickets to revive the hosts. A shaky middle order then survived a lively Jhulan Goswami burst, but only just. However, they kept receiving generous offerings from time to time courtesy India's spinners as Pakistan ate into the target.
The match truly sprung to life when Iram Javed's ferocious flat-batted slap was superbly taken by a diving Mithali Raj at cover as Pakistan slipped to 71 for 4, still needing 27 off 34 balls. While Pakistan's inability to work the singles forced them to bring out the big hits, India's eagerness to close out the contest resulted in a few mishaps.
Sushma Verma, the wicketkeeper, missed a run-out and a stumping in the space of three deliveries, before sending back Sana Mir, the Pakistan captain, for a duck with a direct hit to give India sniff; Pakistan were in shaky waters at 77 for 6. There was a major sign of turbulence and a crash landing seemed inevitable as India's hopes soared. But it was all too brief as rains put paid their hopes of clinching a come-from-behind win.
The unlikely win looked a distant possibility when India dug themselves into a pit they could not quite get out of. Some excellent captaincy by Mir, backed by some accurate spin bowling on a slow Kotla deck by Anam Amin, the left-arm spinner, allowed Pakistan to strangulate India. They bowled as many as 30 dots in the first six overs as India appeared to have been stuck in quick sand as they limped to 7 for 2.
Mithali Raj struggled for timing, but hung around. Strangely enough, her lack of purpose allowed Pakistan to weave a web even as her deputy Kaur struggled to get bat to ball. Mir and Sadia Yousuf built on Anam's good work to ensure India's most accomplished pair had to force the pace and use their brute force to clear the ropes. One such effort resulted in Raj holing out off a full toss to deep midwicket, while Kaur found the long-off fielder.
That India inched close to 100 was thanks to a late turbocharge by Veda Krishnamurthy, who hit three fours, in her 19-ball 24, while Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey muscled 24 between them to give India hope. However, that Pakistan hit nine boundaries in their first 12 overs, much before the rain arrived, in comparison to India's six in 20 overs, eventually proved to be the clincher.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo