India Women defend low score to take title
India Women 81 (Raut 25, Mir 4-13) beat Pakistan Women 63 (Maroof 18) by 18 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A determined effort from India in the field, after being bowled out for 81, led them to the Women's Twenty20 Asia Cup title in Guangzhou. They took Pakistan's last eight wickets for 32 runs to complete an unlikely 18-run victory.
India's decision to bat after winning the toss was a brave move by stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur, considering they were without Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami because of injuries. It seemed to have backfired, however, when India's openers Anuja Patil and Sulakshana Naik were dismissed early, leaving them 4 for 2 in the second over. Poonam Raut and Kaur then led a recovery, playing cautiously to take their team to 36, before Raut fell for 25 to Bismah Maroof in the ninth over. Kaur held the innings together thereafter, much like she had done through the tournament, until she was bowled by Pakistan captain Sana Mir for 20.
At 65 for 5, with four overs remaining, India needed to accelerate to post a competitive total. However, Mir led from the front, allowing India only 16 runs. The legspinner took three wickets in a stifling final over, to end with 4 for 13. At the break, Pakistan would have been the happier of the two sides, and based on previous batting performances they may have felt they could overhaul the target.
Pakistan's innings started slowly, with opener Qanita Jalil getting a single off seamer Shubhlakshmi Sharma's opening over. Sharma struck in her second over by dismissing Jalil, and Pakistan were 4 for 1 in three overs. Mir and Maroof held India at bay for the next six overs with clever batting. Sharp running between the wickets and a few well-timed boundaries swayed the momentum back towards Pakistan, until Mir was caught off Nagarajan Naranjana, with Pakistan needing another 51 runs off 11 overs. Nida Dar, who has been consistent with bat and ball in the tournament, posed a threat to India's title hopes, and with Maroof at the crease, the contest was even.
The vital wicket of Maroof was taken in the next over, though, and the climbing run-rate turned the match in India's favour. Much like their previous group match, India's bowlers proved too strong for the Pakistan lower order. Besides the vice-captain Nain Abidi, who made 13, no other batsman reached double figures. India's fielders claimed the last Pakistan wicket with a sharp run-out off the first ball of the final over.
It was a complete performance by India in the field. Every bowler took wickets, the fielders contributed four catches and two run-outs, and wicketkeeper Naik had two catches and two stumpings. It highlighted India's all-round effort to win the final after a below-par total.
Maroof was adjudged the Player of the Tournament, having topped the run charts with 113 and took five wickets.