Asmavia Iqbal, the Pakistan pacer, conceded that her team was one seamer short against England in their ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 game in Leicester on Tuesday, which it lost by 107 runs on the DLS Method.
The spinners had bowled superbly against South Africa at the same venue two days earlier and had almost defended 207, but conditions were totally different for the second game. A drizzle soon after Pakistan opted to field meant play started half an hour late. A wet outfield and overcast conditions negated the threat of the three spinners, who returned combined figures of 29-0-234-2 as England posted 377 for 7 – the second-highest score in World Cups.
Sana Mir operated with Iqbal and Kainat Imtiaz, her two seamers, for the first 13 overs, but they could only provide two wickets. After that, Natalie Sciver (132 off 97 balls) and Heather Knight (106 off 109 balls) toyed with the bowlers during a third-wicket stand of 213 runs in 30 overs.
“It was a good toss to win. The plan was to take early wickets. We were short of one seamer,” Iqbal said. “We basically depend on our spinners because they take wickets. If you see in the last match, they bowled well. We thought they would bowl well (again), but unfortunately today the field was wet, and because of that the ball was not spinning.”
Pakistan needs to have a Plan B as wet weather is a major factor in England, and Iqbal said it would consider picking a third seamer for its next game.
Once the seamers were done with their first spells, Mir became defensive and that allowed Sciver and Knight to settle down. Iqbal credited Sciver for her enterprising knock, but felt Pakistan could have fielded better during the later stages of the innings.
“They batted really well, especially Sciver. She is a very good hitter. We didn’t take wickets in the middle overs, and the momentum went to them,” she offered. “We did really well in the middle overs (against South Africa). We have the fighting spirit, but we lacked that in the middle overs when we were not picking up wickets. I am disappointed with the way we fielded in the last overs. We dropped catches and there were misfields. We want to do much better in this World Cup. We are here to win matches.”
Pakistan was 107 for 3 in 29.2 overs, with Ayesha Zafar unbeaten on 56, when rain stopped play. Iqbal said it was impossible to chase down the target, but the team was keen on using the opportunity to gain some batting practice.
“It was a huge total. We knew that it was impossible for us to chase this total because we are not so powerful like them. We don’t have big hitters,” she admitted. “Unfortunately, Bismah Maroof, our pure batter, we were missing her (because of an injury sustained on the field). We were short of one batter. Ayesha batted well and gained confidence, which is important before the game against India. Our fast bowling did well, Ayesha played well. But there are many areas to improve, especially fielding which is letting us down. If we field well, we can beat any team.”
Pakistan’s next assignment is against India in Derby on July 2, which it needs to win to resurrect its campaign. Iqbal has played eight One-Day Internationals and nine Twenty20 Internationals against India in her 12-year career. She opened up on the attendant pressures while playing against the arch-rivals.
“Playing against India is always pressure. It is a big game. I am very hopeful of doing much better against India. We beat India in India in the last T20. I believe in my spinners, that they will bounce back and take wickets, and we will win the match,” she said. “We are looking forward to the next game. In Pakistan, they say that you have to win against India, it is very important. We took some positives from this game.”