Allround Taylor trumps Pakistan as West Indies go 1-0 up
West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor © Cricket West Indies
Clinical bowling performance from Anisa Mohammed and Stafanie Taylor followed by a scintillating century from the latter helped West Indies beat Pakistan by five wickets in the first ODI of the five-match series at Antigua on Wednesday (July 7).
Chasing four runs an over, the hosts lost Kyshona Knight early on to Fatima Sana as the left-hander nicked one to Sidra Nawaz. Out of form, Hayley Matthews and Kycia Knight hung in there, trying to build a partnership. However, both Sana and Diana Baig ensured that there were not any free deliveries for the West Indies batters to capitalise.
With the pressure building on them, Matthews was stumped by Sidra Nawaz as the allrounder tried to take on Nida Dar in her very first over. She made 16 runs from 37 balls. Along with her skipper Taylor, Kycia added 33 runs from 61 balls. They picked up the occasional boundaries of Dar while keeping the scoreboard moving with singles and doubles. The partnership was becoming a worry for Javeria Khan as she brought in Sadia Iqbal to provide a breakthrough. Immediately, she delivered as Kycia hit her straight to Baig at the cover.
Taylor was joined by the experienced Deandra Dottin, and they took the attack to the opposition. Together, they scored 46 runs from 54 balls before Iqbal broke the partnership. Taylor was the aggressor in their partnership, contributing 36 runs from 37 balls. She smashed Nashra Sandhu and Iqbal across the park for boundaries, bringing up her 37th half-century in 62 balls. Dottin was more than happy to play second fiddle before she hit one straight back to Iqbal.
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West Indies were down to 121 for four after 31 overs, needing 86 runs from 19 overs. In the next seven overs, Sadia Iqbal and Nida Dar gave away only 16 runs, bringing down the equation to 69 runs from 72 balls. Dar completed her quota of overs, giving away 34 runs and taking a solitary wicket.
Chedean Nation, batting at seven from 26 balls, smashed 11 runs in an Iqbal over, including a massive six over deep midwicket to take some pressure off Taylor. With 52 runs required in 60 balls, Taylor started the last ten overs with back-to-back boundaries off Sandhu - a magnificent off-drive and a lofted straight drive.
However, Baig struck on her first delivery of the 43rd over to remove Nation for 23 runs from 39 balls. Unperturbed by the dismissal, Taylor whipped Sana to the square-leg boundary. Struggling with cramps, she could not pick up quick singles within the inner circle. Britney Cooper lofted Baig down the ground at the other end. She followed it up with another lofted extra-cover drive in the same over.
Meanwhile, Taylor brought up her sixth ODI century in 114 balls, becoming the third leading runscorer in the format. West Indies eventually chased down the target with 13 balls to spare, beating Pakistan by five wickets.
Earlier, Pakistan openers Muneeba Ali and Ayesha Zafar got them off to a cautious start. They took their time against Shakera Selman and Shamilia Connell to settle in. Ali, in particular, played her shots only when there was ample width to free her hands.
While she drove Connel through the square, Zafar flicked the pacer through the square-leg boundary. Connell and Selman were able to keep the run rate under four despite giving away occasional boundaries. Ali capitalised on the short-pitched deliveries from Caneisha Isaac, pulling the debutant behind and in front of the square for boundaries.
Zafar, at the other end, brought out the sweep shot to counter the off-spin of Matthews. The duo brought up the first fifty opening partnership for Pakistan since December 2019. Just when it seemed like Pakistan were running away with the game, Ali got run out for 36 runs from 51 balls.
Skipper Javeria and the other opening batter, Zafar, did not last long. Experienced off-spinner Mohammed trapped Javeria in front of the stumps for five runs from 15 balls. Meanwhile, Zafar fell four runs short of her half-century as she tried to cut Taylor against the spin. From 70 for nil, Pakistan were down to 99 for three.
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Dar joined Omaima Sohail in the middle, trying to revive the innings. Together, they added 22 runs before the latter got out, trying to up the ante by slog sweeping Mohammed towards the midwicket boundary. Dar tried to build a partnership with Aliya Riaz, as they did throughout the series against South Africa.
They put on a 32-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Taylor removed Riaz and Nawaz in successive overs, leaving Dar to fight the lone battle. With Mohammed, Taylor changed the course of the match. The spin duo conceded 60 runs in 20 overs, taking five wickets between them. Unlike Matthews, who operated at 5.3 runs per over, Taylor and Mohammed were tighter in their lines, attacking the stumps more often than not.
Meanwhile, Dar took the attack to the West Indies as Taylor brought back the seamers into the attack. She hit them across the line, through the midwicket region and down the ground for a flurry of boundaries. Dar brought up her seventh ODI half-century in 67 balls but got out shortly after to Selman. Pakistan scrapped their way to 205 for nine after 50 overs. Taylor was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 29 runs in her ten overs.
Pakistan - 205/9 in 50 overs (Nida Dar 55, Stafanie Taylor 3/29) lost to West Indies 209/5 in 47.5 overs (Stafanie Taylor 105, Sadia Iqbal 2/47) by five wickets.