It was a contest that was highly anticipated for the sheer weight of names involved. It was to have risen the titanic rivalry between India and Pakistan to the next level.
A flat contest, lacking thrill and intensity
It was to have unfolded some epic rivalries in the form of Smriti Mandhana versus Nahida Khan on the one hand. And the likes of Sana Mir versus Harmanpreet Kaur on the other, with world-class bowlers pitting against one another to make heads turn in amazement.
Instead, what was presumed to be a legendary clash between India versus Pakistan produced a shock for Pakistan and awe for India. A game of cricket flat as a pan-cake seemingly running on a singular narrative- Pakistan whining and India- shining led to a straightforward 7-wicket win for India, who have now become the only side from Asia to enter the prestigious finals for a record 7th time.
Here’s how the Pakistan vs India contest unfolded
Right from the start, Pakistan looked weak and unable to cope with the pressure India exerted, ever since the spinners- Poonam Yadav and Ekta Bisht- clawed their way into the Pakistani middle order. Needless to say, on a mediocre batting wicket, Pakistan would find it hard to negotiate the challenge mounted by Bisht later, now in possession of 50 T20 wickets.
Reducing the side from 1-1 to 2-9 and very quickly to 4-35 and then, 5-41, India’s spinners- Yadav and Bisht- gave able company to the damage wrecked by their medium-pacer Anuja Patil and Shikha Pandey who removed the top order. You know there’s trouble brewing when half the side is gone for 41.
Sana Mir provides for a lone resistance as top-order fails
Once Pakistan lost their familiar batswomen on whom the responsibility of scoring the bulk of their runs was entrusted, with Nain Abidi and Bismah Mahroof contributing 0 and 3 respectively, it seemed the floodgates had opened. And what lay next, was a washout of any possible chance of a turnaround.
Somehow, captain Sana Mir, among the finest talents in the sport, was able to chip in, albeit with a low-key 20 off 38 balls, struggling to find the gaps, unable to enforce error from India’s bowling attack- a force of stoicism at its best.
India lose Mithali, Deepti as Smriti, Harman pile on runs
India always knew it was going to be easy for them when they were asked to chase 73 off 20 overs. Although, India did try to make a match out of it for fans heightened at the prospect of seeing a live-wire, with Mithali Raj dismissed for a rare duck, followed by Deepti Sharma, presumably sent to pinch-hit vanishing for a duck as well, the side recovered very quickly thereafter.
There can be fewer sites as entertaining as the duo of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur timing the ball as well as they do. And soon, from being 5-2, India would reach within final moments of their run-chase thanks to a 65-run partnership between India captain- Kaur contributing 34 including 3 fours and Mandhana with a familiar bludgeoning of 38 off 40, including 4 fours.
A dull day for Pakistan’s seamers
In Pakistan’s jaded camp, Anam Amin would cut a lonely figure of poise and respectability, the slow left-arm orthodox specialist scalping a 2-for while Mir, Diana Baig and Nida Dhar failing to provide for more breakthroughs, trying nearly for 10 overs among them.
This leaves Pakistan to win all their matches if they are to meet India ahead with an in-form Harmanpreet’s side looking svelte and unharmed despite their shock loss to Bangladesh (a few days ago) sitting pretty on the throne to the finals.