[VIDEO] Pakistan Women defeat Ireland to end tournament on a high note

Red Devil

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Pakistan Women look for consolation win as they face Ireland

Its been a forgettable tournament for Pakistan Women so far, losing all their group matches against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Can they score a consolation win against Ireland today?

It can’t be easy for teams to get themselves up every time they are overwhelmed in the manner that Pakistan Women and Ireland Women have been at the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2014. But, to their credit, the reversals haven't reduced their intensity at training, and their intent in overcoming their shortcomings has been a heartening sight. But, perhaps, that intensity seems to run out come match day as the same mistakes are repeated.

Both sides came into the tournament on the back of plenty of matches against each other across formats in Qatar in January. Sana Mir, the Pakistan captain, emphatically stated that her team’s strength lies in the bowling, while Ireland expressed hope that its batters would give the young bowling attack defendable totals.

Sadly for Ireland, chasing targets of 172, 192 and 166 in its three matches hasn't allowed the batters even a semblance of an opportunity. Ireland is also yet to enjoy the luxury of winning the toss and has been shut out of the contest very early each time. Come Monday (March 31), it will be hoping for a change in fortune, starting with the toss, in its final Group A fixture at the Sylhet Divisional Stadium.

That both teams have had a torrid time isn't an understatement. Pakistan has dropped as many as seven catches in three matches, while Ireland has dropped nine, many at vital times. Meg Lanning, the Australia captain, was dropped thrice by Ireland during her 65-ball 126, but Isobel Joyce, the captain, suggested that athleticism wasn't an issue, particularly given that many players in the squad also train with rugby and football teams back home. The problem was pressure.

"You can let quality batters like Lanning get away once or twice, but definitely not a third time," said Joyce. "We spoke about doing the small things right, but unfortunately when the pressure is on we haven't been able to deliver. The best part is, in training we’re holding on to all of them. In training, we're giving it our all and the fitness levels have been right up there. It’s a matter of delivering at crucial times now."

Ireland's batting is top heavy. Clare Shillington, Isobel and Mary Waldron, the vice-captain, form a troika around which the batting revolves, while Cecelia Joyce adds muscle lower down. But Cecelia's unavailability due to a split webbing on her left hand further thins the middle order.

Pakistan is also grappling with the poor form of their bowlers, but the lack of a talent pool to pick from is clearly hurting them. Bismah Maroof, the vice-captain, said that more often than not, the team has had to rely on camps before a tournament to get together and play as one.

"I think more opportunities to play together will help us gel more and play as a team," she said. "I’ve looked up to our captain Sana Mir for inspiration. She has done her best to make it easier for us. We have to just keep going back and working hard. It’s not every day that we get to play on the world stage. Hopefully this experience will help us going forward."

In its previous match against Australia, Pakistan’s chase fizzled out early, but the team made a conscious decision to play out the overs. But once the first wicket fell, the batting collapsed in a heap, losing eight wickets for just 30 runs.

But, if it is looking for inspiration, it has to look only as far as three weeks ago when it beat Bangladesh Women 2-0 in the T20Is. A win can, therefore, bring a sigh of relief, while a loss will leave Pakistan with the ignominy of playing for the ninth- and tenth-place playoffs, which is what Ireland will also be trying to avoid.
 
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Well done. Great to see Pak women's team doing well. With more matches and support, they can do much better.
 
The Pakistan Women side had to battle stage-fright, inner demons and lady luck, but it sprang to life and restored pride with a 14-run win over Ireland Women in its final Group A fixture of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 at the Sylhet Divisional Stadium on Monday (March 31).

Ireland, chasing 120, set itself up for a late charge, but once Isobel Joyce, the captain, holed out to the lone fielder in the deep off a full toss with the team needing 54 off 39 balls, the chase faltered. In the end, Pakistan won in a canter as Ireland lost its last seven wickets for 28 runs to be bowled out for 105 in 19.3 overs.

Pakistan's experience showed in crunch moments as Sana Mir, the captain, and her troops had a spring in their step after putting up a competitive 119 for 6. While it was challenged until the 15th over on the field, there was a feeling of familiarity to Ireland’s approach lower down once Isobel found Asmavia Iqbal at deep square-leg after a well-compiled 32.

To Ireland's dismay, Pakistan chose the opportune moment to display its agility on the field. A unit that had dropped as many as seven catches in its previous three matches was suddenly transformed. The bowlers too tightened the noose once they managed to break the dangerous 44-run stand for the second wicket between Clare Shillington and Isobel.

Shillington got herself into a tangle after misjudging the length of a Qanita Jalil delivery and found her middle stump knocked back. It meant Elina Tice, all of 16, had the pressure of piloting the team's chase. But a swipe across the line resulted in her dismissal to put immense pressure on Isobel.

Pakistan was well served by its bowling and fielding standards after a somewhat patchy batting show.

Jalil, the big-hitting allrounder, announced herself by blasting three boundaries in a quickfire 20 that set the tempo early on. But the party didn't last long as she was superbly enticed by Tice, the legspinner, who got the ball to drift in and spin away as Jalil lobbed a simple return catch off the leading edge to leave Pakistan 58 for 4.

At various stages, Pakistan looked brittle, till the innings was resurrected courtesy Bismah Maroof, the vice-captain. Maroof, who walked in to bat after a top-order collapse, held her own in an industrious, unbeaten 48-ball 45. Giving her support in a crucial 40-run stand for the sixth wicket was Mir (16), allowing Pakistan to force its way back into the contest.

As it turned out, the partnership not just gave Pakistan a competitive total, but also the confidence and much-needed lift to convert a fighting total into a match-winning one.
 
A much relieved Sana Mair speaking speaking to the press after an impressive 14 run victory against Ireland

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