Pakistan Women take tri-series after close wins over Ireland & Bangladesh

Pakistan beat Ireland at YMCA yesterday and Bangladesh at Railway Union yesterday to win the Women’s ODI Tri-Series before the last match is played. Ireland face Bangladesh in that third match today at YMCA and the team that wins will take second place in the series. Ireland beat Bangladesh in a once-off ODI on Tuesday but were well beaten the two previous times the teams met in ODIs in Bangladesh last Autumn.

In the first match of the series, Ireland captain Isobel Joyce won the toss and elected to bowl against Pakistan. It took until the 11th over for Ireland to make a breakthrough when Nida Dar (15) was drawn into a false shot by a full toss from Joyce and sister Cecelia took a solid catch on the mid-wicket boundary. It was the only catch Ireland were to take in a disappointing day in the field, a number of chances going down. Joyce claimed the wicket of the other opener Janita Qalil, too, bowling her for 42. In at three was Nain Abidi who scored a well-measured century, ticking over at ones and twos in the beginning and then pressing the accelerator in the final 10 - especially during the batting powerplay.

She was supported first by Bismah Maroof (29), who was stumped off the bowling of Elena Tice, and then Javeria Khan (41) whose innovative strokes and good running were the perfect foil to Abidi’s power hitting late on in the innings. Ireland did well to keep the score down to 254, however, as after six overs the visitors were already close to 50. Eimear Richardson was most economical bowling her 10 for 31 and Isobel Joyce was close behind, her 10 going for 37.

In Ireland’s chase, an early mix-up between Cecelia Joyce and Clare Shillington who was coming back for a second led to Joyce being run out for a duck, putting Ireland on the back foot straight away. Her sister Isobel followed and scored just 9 before she got caught in two minds and was duly bowled by Pakistan captain Sana Mir. A heavier rain-shower quickly followed and Ireland lost 11 overs, but only 30 runs were deducted from the target on Duckworth-Lewis. With the target now 224, Kim Garth joined Shillington and the pair set about chipping away at the total. They added 69 in 13 overs before Shillington was caught leg before wicket by Mir.

Eimear Richardson and Garth then shared a partnership of 33 before a direct hit run-out from long on by Bismah Maroof put a serious dent in Ireland’s hopes of a win. And the wickets continued to fall, Richardson run out two overs later and Melissa Scott-Hayward stumped the next. Laura Delany and Mary Waldron were left with far too much to do with 58 still needed from just under four overs, but they gave it a try. Both were run out - Delany on the last ball - with Ireland still 42 runs short.

Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh was an even closer affair. Bangladesh won the toss and batted first - their total of 161 about par for the pitch. Two early wickets put Pakistan in the ascendancy but a third-wicket partnership of 61 from top-scorer Shukhtara Rahmen (37) and Rumana Ahmed (20) helped steady Bangladesh. Both were out in quick succession, though, which put paid to the batting side’s hopes of a total over 200 but Lata Mondal (19) Ritu Moni (23) helped Bangladesh set a defendable total.

Pakistan set about reaching the target with patience. Their top six all made starts, captain Sana Mir top scoring with (29), but none took the responsibility to see the innings through and it was left to numbers seven and eight Asmavia Iqbal (13) and Marina Iqbal (2) to see Pakistan to a nervy win. Needing two from the last over, Asmavia missed the first two balls but eventually she hit a streaky four in the air through the covers on the third ball to send her teammates running onto the pitch in delight and spark wild celebrations amongst the Pakistani touring squad.