Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
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Pakistan women 170 for 2 (Ameen 76, Maroof 62*) beat Sri Lanka women 169 all out (Dilhari 49, Fatima 4-21) by eight wickets
Half-centuries from Sidra Ameen and Bismah Maroof helped Pakistan seal a crushing eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first of three ODIs at Karachi. After Sri Lanka were bowled out for 169, thanks to a sensational spell from Ghulam Fatima, who took four wickets for 21, the batters made light work of the chase, getting to the target with 8.1 overs to spare. It included a 143-run stand between Ameen and Maroof, with Ameen dismissed for 76 just two runs from victory, while Maroof finished undefeated on 62.
As with the T20I series, Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat once more, but immediately ran into problems owing to a slow start and the early fall of Hasini Perera to a run-out, the malaise that had gripped Sri Lanka in the final T20 showing no signs of easing. Chamari Athapaththu and Hansima Karunaratne rebuilt, but saw their gritty work undone when both fell within an over off each other.
It was a theme that would repeat itself throughout the innings. Prasadani Weerakkody and Nilakshi de Silva would combine for a 50-run partnership, finding regular boundaries and pushing up the scoring rate. But just when it appeared as if Sri Lanka were building a platform, Ghulam and Iqbal struck again, getting rid of the settled pair within three balls of each other. Ghulam followed up by knocking back Oshadi Ranasinghe's stumps the very next ball, the batter leaving a straight one to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 96 for six.
It might have ended a lot sooner than it ultimately did but for Kavisha Dilhari, whose breezy, languid strokeplay helped her side pick up valuable runs, giving herself and her bowling partners a semblance of a competitive total to bowl at. Two fours off Iqbal set the tone, before Maroof and Diana Baig were each shown the long handle. Nida Dar was smashed for six as Dilhari fats approached a half-century she richly deserved, only for her to run out of partners as Fatima Sana wrapped up the tail at the other end, leaving Dilhari stranded on an unbeaten 50-ball 49.
The defence from Sri Lanka began inauspiciously as Kumari started with five wides before the first legal delivery was dispatched away for four. It might have heralded a quick finish, but Sri Lanka responded with their best passage of play, keeping Pakistan on a leash throughout the Powerplay and picking up the wicket of Muneeba Ali when she top-edged a sweep off Achini Kulasuriya.
That might have intensified the pressure on Pakistan, not that Ameen or Maroof let it show. Ameen timed a couple of exquisite consecutive covers drives for four in the 10th over, and that appeared to break the shackles for Pakistan once and for all. Maroof got into the act with two boundaries in the 13th over, and by now even the asking rate was trending downwards.
Sri Lanka tried both seam and spin, but couldn't quite muster the discipline of those early overs. The lines were errant, the lengths failed to penetrate and the intensity simply couldn't be cranked up. With each run, a below-par total began to look less intimidating, and for much of the last hour, it was more of a procession than a chase. Maroof's 16th ODI half-century, as well as Ameen's fourth, served to rubberstamp Pakistan's dominance, suggesting the upper hand Pakistan enjoyed in the T20Is has very much carried over into the ODI series.