Diana Baig heroics in vain as South Africa Women win nail-biting encounter

South Africa won the thrilling match by three runs

Diana Baig heroics in vain as South Africa Women win nail-biting encounter PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

The Pakistan National Women’s Cricket Team kicked off their international tour against the South African Women’s Team with a crunching first match.

After winning the toss and deciding to bowl first, the Javeria Khan led green team restricted South Africa to just 200 runs with disciplined, focused and determined efforts by the bowlers.

Fatima Sana, a young 19-year-old emerging star, proved to be a highly skilled campaigner for the side with the ball. From swinging the ball both ways, to bowling the slower ones, executing the variations with control and grit, she supported Diana Baig and put up a good bowling partnership to keep the South African batters jammed on their crease.

Diana, who is a superb athlete and a star for Pakistan, kept the vibe buzzing in the field with her amazing heroic fielding and catching as well. Bowling full 10 overs, Baig managed an economy of 4.60, giving away 46 runs in total, including a maiden over, and clinched three wickets. Whereas, Fatima Sana’s bowling spell stretched over 9 overs in total, giving away 43 runs with an economy rate of 4.78 and clinching one wicket.

Pakistan’s bowling unit was well-managed by their sharp captain, Javeria Khan, who exhibited great captaincy with smart bowling and field changes that prevented the momentum to shift towards the South African women’s way; leading the spinners unit, Nashra Sandhu managed an impressive spell of full 10 overs including a maiden over, giving away 23 runs, clinching 2 wickets and managing an economy rate of 2.30.

Along with her, Nida Dar, a well-respected and highly resourceful all-rounder for Pakistan, bowled full 10 overs, gave away 35 runs, clinched crucial 2 wickets with an economy rate of 3.50. Another left arm spinner, Sadia Iqbal, continued an impressive spin attack by bowling 10 overs, giving away 43 runs and managing an economy of 4.30. The sixth bowler that was used in the innings was the promising all-rounder: Aliya Riaz who bowled an over, giving away 9 runs.

Overall, the Pakistani bowlers utilized the swing, bounce, skid, drift, movement and everything that the surface had to offer potentially to restrict the South African women to 200.

Even though 200 runs to chase in 50 overs psychologically did not seem to be a challenge, however, Pakistan’s batting side could not manage to build crucial partnerships to win the game.

Opening the innings for the side, the experienced Nahida Khan managed 14 runs off 19 balls with two fours and strike rate of almost 74. Whereas, Muneeba Ali did not have a good day with the bat as she was dismissed after scoring just one run by the key bowling weapon for South Africa, Shabnum Ismail.

The momentum for Pakistan was finally set by Omaima Sohail who managed to score 37 runs off 67 balls with five fours, however, she got run out just when things had started rolling for her side.

Her dismissal shifted the responsibility on the highly experienced and talented skipper, Javeria Khan, who unfortunately was dismissed early on just 5 off 11 by South Africa.

The consistent fall of wickets definitely built up pressure and required an experienced player like Nida Dar to grind in and rotate strike to develop a much-needed batting partnership.

However, Sidra Nawaz, who was instrumental in critical stumpings’ as the wicket keeper, could not really click with the bat and got out after scoring just a run.

This called in the most promising all-rounder and an upcoming role model in women’s cricket, Aliya Riaz, to take the responsibility on her shoulders and save the day for Pakistan. Her knock of 28 off 44 did prove to help her side as she established a good batting partnership with Nida Dar.

However, just when things had started going in her favour, she was dismissed by a great delivery bowled by Shabnum Ismail, who also dismissed Fatima Sana on a duck in the next ball.

With 16 runs needed in the last over of the match, the magnificent Diana Baig kept her ground and played some good shots (unbeaten 35 runs off 34 with three fours) that gave hope of an unbelievable victory for Pakistan despite many missed runouts and catching opportunities by the Proteas women but in the end, South Africa won the thrilling match by three runs.

Even though this match should have been easily won by Pakistan, such quality of cricket has surely proven that women’s cricket has improved massively. Especially the Pakistan female cricketers looked sharp, buzzing and determined in the first innings.

Much credit to both the cricket boards for organizing a much-needed international tour and having the matches broadcasted live on television so that the world can see the current female cricketers inspire the future generation of cricketers.