By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
Captain puts team on brink of ICC Women’s World Twenty20 semifinal, carrying bat for 94 as Pakistan beaten by 59 runs
That passage of play formed the bedrock of New Zealand's 167 for 3, a total that proved too high for Pakistan who eventually ended on 109 for 7 to lose by 59 runs. As a result, New Zealand maintained its all-win record to virtually seal a place in the semifinals of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2014.
Having lost its opening Group A fixture to South Africa, Pakistan faced an uphill task of finding form against a side on a bull run. But the bowlers couldn't put the brakes on New Zealand's scoring, and once the openers saw off a three-over passage, the flood gates opened.
Devine, who was playing her first game of the tournament, and Bates, the captain, wasted no time in getting their eye in, with 35 runs in the first five overs.
In the sixth over, Devine carted two boundaries down the ground off Sadia Yousuf, the left-arm spinner, as Pakistan was put under pressure even before the Power Play overs ended.
While Devine holed out to long-off on 44 to break an 83-run opening stand off just 62 balls, Bates continued scoring with ease, thereby ensuring New Zealand didn't lose momentum. Sana Mir and Nida Dar, the lead spinners, went wicketless and conceded 62 off seven combined overs, while Bismah Maroof's only over cost Pakistan 14 runs.
Mir placed faith in her regular bowlers, with not many options available to her. Although Sara McGlashan and Rachael Priest didn’t last long, Bates's brilliance meant Pakistan hardly had any breathing space in the middle overs.
“One of the reasons for our success in recent times has been the bowling and fielding, which unfortunately isn’t clicking for us,” rued Mir. “You can’t expect to bowl badly and win too many games. We need to keep working on it; there’s a lot of pride to play for from here one. We’ll take it as it comes.Bates carried her bat through, to finish on 94 off 61 balls. New Zealand had hit 81 runs off the second half of its innings to go into the break with momentum on its side.
"I worked on a couple of technical aspects after the warm-ups and that is bearing fruit,” said Bates, who was awarded Player of the Match. “On these types of wickets, you can get value for your shots along the ground and not necessarily have to over-hit the ball. That was the conscious decision I made today. Also, Sophie took a lot of pressure off me, and that helped me kick on, although at the end I wasn’t able to time it as well as I can.”Pakistan tried to attack straightaway, given the steep target. The openers looked in good touch and put on 23 off the first four overs before Nain Abidi had to leave when both batters were stranded at one end as Devine's throw from deep square-leg was accurate. Two overs later, Dar miscued a slog to mid-off.
Felicity Leydon-Davis, the medium pacer who was playing in just her third Twenty20 International, built pressure through her accuracy and in the process had Maroof missing an attempted sweep off a fuller delivery to leave Pakistan 36 for 3.
Mir battled hard, but the pressure of the asking rate didn't give her any leeway. To make matters worse, Javeria Khan, the destructive opener, was run out for a 34-ball 35 as McGlashan’s one-handed throw from mid-off hit the stumps at the bowler’s end.
With the cream of the batting departing, Pakistan ended with a second heavy defeat with its semifinal aspirations dealt a blow.