KARACHI: As the sun shone relentlessly on the Southend Club’s cricket ground on Tuesday, two things kept the Pakistan women’s team going; the fairly cool Karachi breeze and a small yet buzzing crowd at the venue.
Home advantage too must’ve helped as Tuba Hassan, on her international debut, put on a leg-spin show that saw Pakistan romp to a six-wicket victory in the opening game of their three-match Twenty20 International series against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
It was also Pakistan’s first win following their disastrous World Cup campaign earlier and the crowd, mostly made up of school girls made the occasion special.
If they needed to look up to anyone, there was Tuba.
Running in with a smooth action, Tuba caused a host of problems for the visitors on a dry, spin-friendly track and register figures of 8-3 in four overs.
The picture perfect moment for the 18-year-old was when she spun one sharply into Sri Lanka batter Harshitha Madavi from around the wicket to dislodge the left-handers stumps.
She also lured Anushka Sanjeewani and Kavisha Dilhari into playing mistimed strokes to bag her two other scalps.
“I tried to keep my momentum up and and wanted to help my team,” Tuba said after the match. “It was a proud moment for me because we won after a long time and I managed to contribute.
“We enjoyed our home advantage and the crowd was really backing us.”
It was slow left-armer Anam Amin (3-21) who gave Pakistan the perfect start, removing openers Hasini Perera and Chamari Athapaththu by the third over.
Madavi (25) and Nikasha de Silva (25) did try to bring the visitors back in the game but Tuba’s spell came too early for them.
Pakistan skipper Bismah Maroof (28 off 32) and veteran all-rounder Nida Dar (36 off 27 not out) chased down the 107-run target set by Sri Lanka after winning the toss with 10 balls to spare.
The duo put up 51 off 46 balls for the fourth wicket after Pakistan were reeling at 45-3 by the end of the ninth over following debutant opener Gull Feroza, her partner Muneeba Ali (18) and Iram Javed’s (18) early departures.
Gull was trapped lbw for a two-ball duck by Sugandika Kumari before Muneeba miscued one off Dilhari and Iram was stumped off an Oshadi Ranasinghe delivery.
It was a performance that would boost Pakistan Cricket Board’s ambitions of increasing the women’s talent pool and is conducting countrywide trials to make this possible.
One of the fans, Urooj, who hopes to play for the national team one day, said witnessing sportswomen perform was much more special than watching their male counterparts play.
“I am very excited to be here and these girls inspire me to take up cricket as well,” the 13-year-old told Dawn.
“I’ve attended men’s matches as well but when women play, seeing them overcoming their challenges through their courage is motivating at a different level,” added Urooj.
Another fan, Sehrish, echoed Urooj’s thoughts and said she would keep looking for opportunities to play at the national level.
“When my teachers told me we were going to watch a match I was thrilled about it,” she said.
“Now I’ve asked them to let me know whenever a chance comes up, I want to play at this level.”
SRI LANKA 106-8 in 20 overs (Harshitha Madavi 25, Nilakshi de Silva 25; Tuba Hasan 8-3, Anam Amin 21-3); PAKISTAN 107-4 in 18.2 overs (Nida Dar 36 not out, Bismah Maroof 28; Oshadi Ranasinghe 20-2).
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022