Pakistan's leg theory leaves plenty to be desired

Natalie Sciver's 137 from 92 balls was significantly more than Pakistan managed in nearly 30 overs. But it was in the field that they showed their naivety

Pakistan were outclassed by England on the day, but their tactics didn't help the cause  •  Getty Images

Pakistan were outclassed by England on the day, but their tactics didn't help the cause  •  Getty Images

The first six of the 40th over came from the third ball. The ball landed next to the sightscreen. Nat Sciver had barely hit it; this was no slog, she wasn't trying to muscle the ball, she just eased it 30 metres beyond the rope. The ball was a gentle half-volley outside off stump cordially delivered by Asmavia Iqbal.
There had been a time earlier in the game where Iqbal was bowling well. The first ball of the match, she took the edge of Tammy Beaumont, but Nain Abidi didn't hang on at slip. Even after that, Iqbal was bowling big hooping inswing and causing the English girls some worry. She almost took the wicket of Sarah Taylor as well as Beaumont, and after seven overs she had 0 for 22.
It was her bowling partner, Kainat Imtiaz, who took the wickets. Imtiaz's last four overs against South Africa cost 43 runs which, in a low-scoring chase, was 20 percent of the runs. This time, she started with huge hooping outswingers that she never controlled. Her second over began with a knee-high full toss that was hit to the vacant fine-leg boundary. Then three consecutive wides. Then another full toss that went to the fine-leg fence. And then the wicket of Taylor. Later, Imtiaz would take the wicket of Beaumont with exaggerated outswing. And at that point, Nat Sciver came in.
The second six of the 40th over came from the fourth ball. The ball hit the press box after being slog-swept over long-on by Sciver. This time, Sciver wanted to hit it hard, and the ball went a very long way. She had to reach the ball from a long way outside off stump. But she hit it on the leg-side of the field, not for the first time.
Sciver's wagon-wheel showed one shot behind point on the off side (an edge). There were many reasons for that - Sciver is usually too busy bashing the ball to worry about subtle shots. The Pakistan bowlers, whether seam or spin, do not put a lot of pace on the ball. And Pakistan's fields were about as bizarre as could be imagined by a cricketing brain. They included a constant three fielders behind point, which would have seemed like overkill if at any point Sciver looked like playing the ball there.
Like many women's teams, they also chose not to place a fine leg. Which is fine as an opening tactic, but they continued it all day, as if it was a law of cricket. The ball went down there over after over, it went down there because their bowlers could not control their lines, it went down there because the English players knew there was no fielder, and yet no matter how much it went down there, they didn't put in a fine leg. Ten boundaries in all. But many other runs as well.
The worst runs to fine leg weren't even a boundary, but a ball from Nahida Khan. Nahida is a part-time bowler, so it's unfair to point out that she bowls slow rank seam. However, she was bowling her rank slow seam with only three players on the leg side (another bizarre, and constant, tactic) and one of her 12 deliveries was a slow half-tracker down that under-guarded leg side that Sciver almost fell over in trying to hit. It was only two runs, but that's because the ball itself was so embarrassed it only trickled away to hide.
The third six of the 40th over came off the fifth ball. This one went over deep midwicket. It was a slog-sweep turned gentle hoick that cleared the fielder easily.
By this point, it might not have mattered; the Pakistan fielders had long since given up on quality, or even mediocre fielding. Balls went through fielders in the circle, sweepers out on the rope seemed to be waiting for the ball to hit the rope before they could throw it back in. When Anya Shrubsole found deep midwicket, she found Sadia Yousaf there squatting down to take what should have been a simple catch. Instead she dropped the ball, allowing two extra runs, before then being moved to field at - you won't believe this - short fine leg.
In reply, Pakistan batted for 29.2 overs, at times they were over 100 runs behind the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score. In their 176 balls they made 107 runs and lost three wickets. Nat Sciver faced 92 balls and made 137.
In the 40th over Sciver hit three sixes. Pakistan managed none.

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber