Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor are two of the most destructive batters in the world, but they had not clicked in tandem in the first five matches for Windies in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. But they came to the party against Pakistan at Grace Road in Leicester on Tuesday to set the platform for a 19-run win (DLS Method) in a rain-affected game. While they are unable to achieve a semi-final berth, the Windies’ second consecutive win ensured they won’t be returning home with the dreaded wooden spoon.
Play started 55 minutes behind schedule, and Pakistan, which opted to field in overcast conditions under floodlights, removed the openers within five overs as Asmavia Iqbal sent both Hayley Matthews and Kycia Knight back to the pavilion. Having seen her team collapse on many occasions through the tournament, Taylor took it upon herself to do something special on the day.
Her 90 complemented Dottin’s unbeaten 104 off 76 balls as the Windies posted 285 for 4 – its best total since making 368 against Sri Lanka in an ICC Women’s World Cup 2013 match in Mumbai.
Rain delayed the start of Pakistan’s innings by an hour and nine minutes, and when the ground was ready it was set a revised target of 245 in 38 overs. Having chased 247 in 47.4 overs in a warm-up game against Windies at the same venue, Pakistan started steadily. Nahida Khan (40) and Javeria Khan (58 not out) added 80 runs for the second wicket to keep the chase alive, but Anisa Mohammed, like in the win against Sri Lanka, provided the decisive blows.
She dismissed Nahida and Iram Javed in the space of two overs to reduce Pakistan to 117 for 3 after 24 overs. Iram’s wicket – Mohammed’s 142nd, which made her the fourth-highest wicket-taker in One-Day Internationals, going past India’s Neetu David – was the last bit of action before rain arrived again, this time for good.
Taylor’s batting was pure class, as she relied on timing and placement. Each time the bowlers bowled full, she drove between point and long-off, where she scored 54 of her runs. She was equally strong on the back foot, too, waiting for the ball to turn before playing her shots.
Taylor received good support from Chedean Nation as the duo added 87 runs for the third wicket. It proved to be the precursor of things to come. Taylor was then able to shift gears seamlessly at the arrival of Dottin. While Taylor scored the majority of her runs on the off side, Dottin preferred the area between backward square-leg and long-on, using the bottom hand to good effect.
Taylor was set for her first century in four years, but hit back a slower ball back to Diana Baig, who held on to a sharp return catch in the 40th over.
Preserving wickets for the last 10 overs is a big factor in how innings are built in women’s cricket, and it showed in the way Dottin launched herself in the company of Merissa Aguilleira. Their unbroken stand of 81 came in 10.1 overs, with Dottin doing the maximum hitting. She played just one dot ball in the last 22 balls she faced, recording the fastest ODI century by a Windies Women batter off just 71 balls – the six off Iqbal over mid-wicket in the 49th over to bring up her maiden century was massive.
One of the biggest issues with this Windies team has been the inability to build partnerships. It had three big stands against Pakistan, and there were a total of just 142 dot balls from the time Taylor joined Nation in the sixth over. That it had the power of Dottin to rely on ensured that the scoreboard never stopped moving, but the crucial aspect of her innings was her willingness to bide her time at the start instead of going for her shots without having an understanding of the pace of the pitch. Taylor and Aguilleira (24 not out off 31 balls) remained busy, which meant that Dottin never had to make up for slow scoring at the other end.
The Windies also benefitted from Pakistan’s sloppy fielding and the bowlers’ failure to stick to one side of the wicket. Once Taylor and Dottin got their eye in, they were never in doubt of establishing their authority. That 44 per cent of the total came in the cover and long-on regions also showed that the batters were happy to play with a straight bat instead of trying to be too adventurous.
The West Indies innings was a perfect example of how to build innings in blocks, but it came a bit too late for it in the tournament. Pakistan was always behind the eight-ball, but credit should go to Nahida and Javeria for not allowing the required run-rate to go too far ahead. That they could never get off the blocks was because Taylor mixed her bowlers well, and kept building dot-ball pressure before introducing Mohammed in the 18th over. Mohammed’s two wickets helped her reach a milestone, and now next target would be to go past Lisa Sthalekar’s tally of 146 wickets.