Pakistan Women qualified for the upcoming Women's World Cup in England despite being demolished by India Women by seven wickets at Colombo's P Sara Oval. Ekta Bisht's career-best returns of 5 for 8 in 10 overs toppled Pakistan for 67. India required just 22.3 overs to chase down the target, with seven wickets in hand, and finished the Super Six stage as table toppers.
Before Bisht, it was Shikha Pandey, the new-ball bowler, who set the tone for Pakistan's slide after Mithali Raj decided to bowl under overcast conditions. Pandey removed the in-form Nahida Khan and Javeria Khan for single-digit scores. Pakistan were 30 for 2 after 10 overs when Bisht struck for the first time, off her very first ball, trapping Ayesha Zafar lbw for her 50th ODI scalp. Zafar had made 19.
Apart from Zafar, only Bismah Maroof got into double figures before Pakistan folded in the 44th over. Bisht had ample support. Pandey took 2 for 9 from her seven overs, while spinners Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma and Devika Vaidya picked up a wicket apiece.
India's innings began in bright fashion, with a boundary off the very first ball, but they quickly stuttered with Sana Mir and Sadia Yousuf reducing them to 23 for 2. Opening batsman Deepti Sharma then steered the chase with a 42-run third-wicket stand with Kaur, who became Yousuf's second victim when she was caught by Zafar with just three needed. Five balls later, Veda Krishnamurthy closed out the game with a four off left-arm spinner Nashra Sandhu as India's innings ended the same way it began.
Sri Lanka Women also secured their spot in the World Cup after a 42-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis method in their last Super Six tie against Bangladesh Women in a rain-affected tie in Colombo. Chamari Atapattu hit 84 at the top to help Sri Lanka to 197 for 9 in their 50 overs. In reply, Bangladesh, chasing a revised target of 111, could only reach 68 for 5 in their allotted 21 overs.
Atapattu walked out with Sri Lanka 39 for 1 in the 11th over and started off with a half-century stand with Hasini Perera. After Perera's dismissal for 32, the onus fell on Atapattu to build Sri Lanka's innings. Atapattu nearly hung around till the end of the innings, before Salma Khatun took her out in the first ball of the 49th over. Sri Lanka could only collect four runs from the 11 remaining balls as they fell short of the 200-mark.
Bangaldesh used seven bowlers, six of whom were among the wickets. Khatun was the pick of the lot, striking thrice and giving away just 18 runs in nine overs.
Bangladesh began poorly in the chase, with Udeshika Prabodhani and Inoka Ranaweera reducing them to 25 for 3 in the eighth over. Nigar Sultana (24) and Shaila Sharmin (21) made contributions, but a double strike from Inoshi Priyadharshani in the 15th over hurt Bangladesh and they finished well short of the target.
Rain affected proceedings at the Colombo Cricket Ground too where South Africa Women came out on top by 36 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method against Ireland Women. South Africa's win was set up by a strong bowling performance that helped them bowl out Ireland for 166 in 49.5 overs. South Africa were 82 for 1 in 21 overs in their reply when rain stopped play. South Africa needed to be 47 for 1 at that stage, and with play never resuming, they emerged comfortable winners and secured second spot in the Super Six table.
All seven of the bowlers used by South Africa chipped in with wickets as Ireland's innings never got going. Cecilia Joyce struck 29 at the top of the order. Isobel Joyce and Gaby Lewis got off to starts with knocks of 30 and 21 respectively, but most of the rest largely failed to impress. That Ireland got to 166 was down to wicketkeeper Mary Waldron's unbeaten 33 at No. 8, and her last-wicket partnership of 43 with Ciara Metcalfe, who contributed just 10.
Kim Garth snuffed out Lee for 14 in the third over, after which Laura Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez got together for an unbroken second-wicket stand of 59. When the rain came down, Wolvaardt was unbeaten on 32 and du Preez was not out on 29.
The four qualifying teams - India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan - will be joined by England, Australia, New Zealand and West Indies in the World Cup which begins in June in England.