By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
Good bowling and fielding ensures Ireland Women all out for 105, to give Pakistan 14-run win
Ireland, chasing 120, set itself up for a late charge, but once Isobel Joyce, the captain, holed out to the lone fielder in the deep off a full toss with the team needing 54 off 39 balls, the chase faltered. In the end, Pakistan won in a canter as Ireland lost its last seven wickets for 28 runs to be bowled out for 105 in 19.3 overs.
Pakistan's experience showed in crunch moments as Sana Mir, the captain, and her troops had a spring in their step after putting up a competitive 119 for 6. While it was challenged until the 15th over on the field, there was a feeling of familiarity to Ireland’s approach lower down once Isobel found Asmavia Iqbal at deep square-leg after a well-compiled 32.
To Ireland's dismay, Pakistan chose the opportune moment to display its agility on the field. A unit that had dropped as many as seven catches in its previous three matches was suddenly transformed. The bowlers too tightened the noose once they managed to break the dangerous 44-run stand for the second wicket between Clare Shillington and Isobel.
Shillington got herself into a tangle after misjudging the length of a Qanita Jalil delivery and found her middle stump knocked back. It meant Elina Tice, all of 16, had the pressure of piloting the team's chase. But a swipe across the line resulted in her dismissal to put immense pressure on Isobel.
Pakistan was well served by its bowling and fielding standards after a somewhat patchy batting show.
Jalil, the big-hitting allrounder, announced herself by blasting three boundaries in a quickfire 20 that set the tempo early on. But the party didn't last long as she was superbly enticed by Tice, the legspinner, who got the ball to drift in and spin away as Jalil lobbed a simple return catch off the leading edge to leave Pakistan 58 for 4.
At various stages, Pakistan looked brittle, till the innings was resurrected courtesy Bismah Maroof, the vice-captain. Maroof, who walked in to bat after a top-order collapse, held her own in an industrious, unbeaten 48-ball 45. Giving her support in a crucial 40-run stand for the sixth wicket was Mir (16), allowing Pakistan to force its way back into the contest.
As it turned out, the partnership not just gave Pakistan a competitive total, but also the confidence and much-needed lift to convert a fighting total into a match-winning one.