Nida Dar optimistic about Pakistan women fightback

By Sohail Ali

LAHORE, Jan 22 (APP): The first One-day International between South African women and Pakistan women went down the wire and was decided on the final ball with the hosts securing a close three-run win after a brilliant fightback from the tourists.

Following their captain Javeria Khan’s decision to bowl first, the Pakistan bowling unit, spearheaded by pacer Diana Baig, restricted the hosts to a modest 200 for nine and had them reeling at 88 for four at one stage.

In their chase, they made a solid comeback from 78 for five to be only 13 runs away from the victory before the start of the last over.

All-rounder Nida Dar contributed in both departments as she took two wickets for 35 with her off-spin before recording the highest score of the match with a 93-ball 59 not out, which included three fours.

The 34-year-old is optimistic about her team bouncing back in the series when they take on South Africa for the second one-dayer at Durban’s Kingsmead Cricket Stadium on Saturday.

“It was quite a thrilling match and the girls did not lose the fighting spirit till the last ball,” Nida told PCB Digital on Friday.

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“It was our first international match after a long gap and overall we played good, competitive cricket.

I think we squandered an opportunity to go 1-0 up in the series. Certainly, there were some gaps and we have had discussions on how we can plug them. We are now looking forward to the next match.”

Before Wednesday, Nida had posted 50-plus scores on four occasions. Reflecting on her innings, she said: “It is certainly good to score runs as it gives you confidence going into matches. However, every day is a new day and you encounter different.

This time, despite scoring a half-century, I was not able to take my team over the line, but it will not be the case the next time.”

The hosts seemed certain to seal the match much earlier in the innings when Shabnim Ismail, who was named Player of the Match for taking three wickets for 42 and contributing run-a-ball 20, bowled Aliya Riaz (28 off 44), bringing an end to a 51-run stand, and Fatima Sana on successive deliveries in the 41st over.

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But an incredible undefeated 60-run stand for the ninth-wicket between Nida and Diana, who contributed an impressive 35 not out from 34 balls, kept the tourists in the contest. Their partnership went down as the highest for the ninth-wicket for Pakistan and the fourth highest in the history of women’s game.

“Our partnership was built on the fighting spirit and when we came together in the middle, we were discussing that we cannot let this game slip and we will battle till the very last ball.

Her feedback as a bowler helped me in the middle. We have never batted together for this long and it was incredible how her innings has instilled confidence in the team that we can bounce back from difficult moments.”

Pakistan squad:

Javeria Khan (c), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Syeda Aroob Shah