An allround performance from Nida Dar propelled Pakistan to a 10-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the final of the inaugural women's cricket tournament at the Asian Games in Guangzhou,China. This is Pakistan's first gold medal in the tournament and has already been welcomed by their supporters at a time when the men's game is reeling from a succession of controversies and the country is battling the fallout of devastating floods that affected 21 million people this summer.
"We are excited and happy," Sana Mir, the captain said. "Pakistan must be proud of us. The way the women's team has played and the way they have handled themselves on and off the field is really wonderful for Pakistanis living in Pakistan and abroad. There are lot of good things happening in Pakistan and this is one of them."
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari hailed the team's win, describing the performance as "as a gift to the nation riding on a series of crises".
In what turned out to be a one-sided final, Pakistan chose to field and their bowlers, led by Dar's offspin, ran through the Bangladesh batting line-up. Only Rumana Ahmed (16) and Salma Khatun (24) managed to reach double figures as Bangladesh were bowled out for 92 off their 20 overs. Dar picked up three wickets, conceding just 16 runs in four overs.
Pakistan made short work of the chase as the openers, Dar and Javeria Khan, reached the target in just under 16 overs. Dar raced to 51 off 43 deliveries with seven fours while Khan made a more sedate 39 with three boundaries.
Dipu Rai Choudhury, the Bangladesh coach, was disappointed with the loss, but was still pleased with the team's overall performance in the tournament. "If we had won today, we would have been heroes here. But we are still heroes," he said.
The bronze medal was won by Japan, who beat China by seven wickets. China were restricted to 65 for 6 off their 20 overs before Japan reached their target with four balls to spare.
Japan captain Ema Kuribayashi, who plays club cricket in New Zealand, top-scored for her side with a steady, unbeaten 24. "We fought with calmness and concentration. We just tried to avoid getting out. We were focusing on doing our jobs," she said, adding that the win would be a major boost to the sport in Japan.