NORTH SOUND, Antigua – West Indies Women held their nerve. It staved off a late challenge from Pakistan Women to pull off a ten-run victory in the opening Twenty20 International of the three-match series here Wednesday.
Player-of-the-Match Shamilia Connell rocked the visitors in a devastating opening spell which yielded three for 21 from four overs as Pakistan, in pursuit of a tricky 137, slumped to 23 for three in the third over Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
When speedster Aaliyah Alleyne (2-23) entered the attack and picked up two more wickets to further destabilize the innings, West Indies threatened to run away with the contest, with Pakistan tottering on 57 for six in the 13th over.
However, 16-year-old Ayesha Naseem struck a bold unbeaten 45 from 33 deliveries with two fours and a six, inspiring an unbroken 69-run, seventh-wicket stand with Fatima Sana, whose 24 not out came from 21 balls.
Their enterprise left West Indies with 21 runs to defend from the final over, but seamer Shakera Selman put all her experience on show to ensure no surprises.
Hayley Matthews, who had a day to forget in the field with two dropped catches, had earlier top-scored with 32 off 28 deliveries as West Indies Women marched to 136 for six off their 20 overs after being sent in.
Veteran all-rounder Deandra Dottin pummelled 31 and Kyshona Knight, 23, but the home side struggled for momentum at the back end of their innings,
The right-handed Matthews put on 65 off 53 deliveries for the first wicket with Dottin before advancing to left-arm spinner Nashra Sandhu and punching an easy catch to cover in the ninth over.
Two balls later, with two runs added in the next over, Dottin also gifted her wicket by slapping a short hop from off-spinner Nida Dar (2-15) to cover, leaving Knight and captain Stafanie Taylor (11) to repair the innings in a stand of 26 for the third wicket.
Taylor spent 18 balls at the crease without hitting a boundary before frustratingly hitting across a full-length delivery from Nida Dar at the end of the 14th over and falling lbw.
Knight counted two boundaries in her 21-ball knock, but West Indies only gathered 43 runs from the last 42 deliveries of the innings.
Connell then scythed through the Pakistan top to set up her side’s victory, striking with the sixth ball of the innings when she got Javeria Rauf to play on for five with seven runs on the board.
And in her next over – the third of the innings – she bowled captain Javeria Khan for seven after the right-hander failed to keep down a short ball and then also got Nida Dar to play on for nine.
Off-spinner Matthews induced Muneeba Ali (9) to the sky to Chinelle Henry in the deep at the end of the eighth over, before Alleyne grabbed the first of her two wickets by shattering the stumps of Aliya Riaz with a total length delivery at 40 for five in the ninth over.
Iram Javed arrived at number six to strike two fours in 11 before also having her stumps hit by the lively Alleyne, but sloppy fielding, combined with Naseem’s bravery, put pressure back Windies Women.