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Match Analysis

Nida Dar, the Pakistan playmaker

The offspinner brought down WI's big-hitters with meticulously laid plans and inspired a famous win

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Nida Dar picked up 4 for 10 in Pakistan's victory over West Indies  •  ICC via Getty Images

Nida Dar picked up 4 for 10 in Pakistan's victory over West Indies  •  ICC via Getty Images

Nida Dar was not happy. She had picked up two wickets against India, and scored a half-century that almost helped Pakistan over the line against South Africa. But her team was yet to shrug off their run of losses in Women's World Cup, a count that had swelled to 18.
Dar is confident and is seldom afraid of speaking her mind. She considers herself a role model and thrives under pressure. Case in point: each of her last three ODI fifties before the World Cup have come with Pakistan in a spot of bother - 87 versus Bangladesh in the Qualifier last year after coming in at 42 for 4; 55 against West Indies after coming in at 99 for 3; and 51 against South Africa after coming in at 58 for 3 and then watching it slip to 73 for 5.
On Monday, in the Women's World Cup encounter that would have ended Pakistan's dreams completely had they lost, West Indies were asked to bat first in a rain-reduced 20-over contest. Deandra Dottin was off the blocks early on a pitch that wasn't particularly easy to score on. Dar was manning the ropes and watching Dottin hit four fours - including three in an over - off Diana Baig and another one off Fatima Sana right after she had dismissed Hayley Matthews.
When Dar was given the ball, Dottin had mellowed just a touch but was still 27 off 34 balls. On the very first ball, Dar managed to dismiss Dottin by taking a low catch off her own bowling. She celebrated by standing up straight, hands aloft, slight smirk on her face - a la Shahid Afridi, former Pakistan men's allrounder. That was enough to open the floodgates.
"When I was watching Dottin hit, I was wishing that I bowl to her and dismiss her," Dar said after the match. "I was thinking about where and how I would bowl to Dottin, while I was fielding at the boundary. Even though the delivery wasn't the best, I took a good catch and that plan of mine worked. I plan well against good players and try to stick to it and execute them."
Dar had gauged that the track was conducive to spin, with the ball gripping and holding a bit on the surface. Her action, which has quite a bit of shoulder force in it, means she has the ability to get even more out of such surfaces. And so she proved, deceiving Shemaine Campbelle, who scored a match-winning fifty against Bangladesh, in the air to beat her on the inside edge and get her stumped.
"I tried to bowl each ball differently since West Indies batters use their feet well against spin," she said. "As a senior campaigner my aim is to perform and do well for the team. My mindset was about bowling in good areas and I was fortunate to pick up wickets as per the needs of the team."
Dar then dismissed Kycia Knight and Chinelle Henry off the last two balls of her spell to finish with 4 for 10, best figures not only in her ODI career but also for by a Pakistan player in Women's World Cups. It was a welcome return for Dar to the tournament, after missing the 2017 edition.
"I think I haven't done as well as a senior should," Dar, who has the second-most wickets for Pakistan in this competition, said. "I strive to do well every time, to inspire the others back home. The girls should try and break the records I make. The credit of my performances should go to my team, which supports me and lifts me up.
"I take pride in winning games for my team and I am not happy if I do well but Pakistan lose."
It was Dar's first Player of the Match award in ODIs. And it was only apt that it came in Pakistan's first win in a World Cup match since 2009.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo