West Indies favorite to win the series as Pakistan look to top order for better performance

Hayley Matthews and Shamilia Connell © Cricket West Indies

West Indies overcame a spirited Pakistan in the first T20I of the three-match series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua to register their first victory in the format since February 2020. Stafanie Taylor’s side resisted the visitor’s late resurgence led by teenagers Ayesha Naseem and Fatima Sana on Wednesday (June 30), to take an early lead in the series. The hosts will hope to repeat that performance to seal the series 2-0 in the second T20I on Friday (July 2).

It was the seamers who stood out for the West Indies in the first match. They were right on the money from the very first over, with Shamilia Connell’s player of the match worthy fiery spell with the new ball setting the tone. She removed Javeria Rauf, Pakistan skipper Javeria Khan, and big hitter Nida Dar within the first two overs of her spell This helped West Indies to reduce Pakistan’s scoring rate and increase the dot ball pressure.

However, even though they managed to take wickets up front, West Indies looked clueless against the duo of Naseem and Fatima Sana. The pair played with abandon, bludgeoning all the bowlers around the ground, even going after veterans like Anisa Mohammed and Taylor. While the lackluster performance at the end didn’t cost them the game, West Indies might want to change their death overs bowling plans going forward.

With the bat, West Indies openers came all guns blazing in the power play, but lost the momentum and wickets during the middle overs. They could only score 62 runs in 10 overs after the power play and lost three wickets. That is something the home side will want to improve on.

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On the other hand, Pakistan’s bowlers, came back strong after being hit for 60 runs in the first eight overs. Dar, who became the first-ever Pakistan player to take 100 T20I wickets, joined hands with left-arm spinner Anam Amin to concede only 35 runs in their eight overs. Fatima Sana, playing in her fifth T20I got hit for 21 runs in her first two overs, but bounced back to remove Kyshona Knight and Chedean Nation.

Pakistan’s batting innings – much like their bowling – can be divided into two halves. One, where experienced campaigners like Khan, Dar and Aliya Riaz failed to score any runs, and the other half where young talented players Naseem and Sana showed how important it is to bat with intent. They played their heart out, but too much was left for them in the end.

“I think it was our batting department where we lacked, so going into the next matches, it is the batters who need to rise up to the tasks and take more responsibility,” Dar admitted in the post-match interaction.

Pakistan’s batting unit has a huge responsibility to help their hardworking bowling department and close out the matches with better performances. One thing they can learn from their opponents is better strike rotation. “Once you rotate the strike you find boundaries come easier,” West Indies captain laid the blueprint of their successful batting innings in the post-match presentation.

The two sides will face each other at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua for the second T20I, before returning to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the final match. Will Pakistan learn from their mistakes and win the first game of the tour or will West Indies continue to dominate? We will have to wait and see.

Squads

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Anisa Mohammed (VC), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Chinelle Henry, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman

Pakistan: Javeria Khan (c), Rameen Shamim, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Aliya Riaz, Aiman Anwar, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Jaweria Rauf, Kainat Imtiaz, Kaynat Hafeez, Maham Tariq, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui (wk), Nahida Khan, Najiha Alvi (wk), Nashra Sundhu, Natalia Parvaiz, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Saba Nazir, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, and Syeda Aroob Shah