CUTTACK (TIP): Indian women salvaged some pride, beating arch-rivals Pakistan by six wickets in the play-off match for the seventh and eighth positions in the ICC Women’s World Cup, at the Barabati Stadium on Thursday. Skipper Mithali Raj hit a scintillating unbeaten 103 off 141 balls, as the hosts successfully chased the 192-run target. When Reema Malhotra hit the winning boundary, it was a great consolation for the 5,000 odd spectators at Barabati, who missed local girl Roshanara Parvin in the Team India XI on Thursday.
Player-of-the-match Mithali, who was offcolour in Mumbai, regained her old touch as she hammered the Pakistani bowlers round the park with ease and scored her fourth ODI ton. She stepped out and lifted spinner Bismah Maroof for a huge six over the bowler’s head and hit 13 glorious boundaries in her memorable knock.
She stood like a rock, denying Pakistan a much sought after victory and batted well in small partnerships with Reema Malhotra (not out 25), Thirush Kamini (26) and Harmanpreet Kaur (16) to script a face-saving victory for her side. As expected, Pakistani players lifted their game against India and appeared a much improved side in all departments of the game. After they elected to bat first upon winning the toss, the top order batting woes for Pakistan continued for the sixth consecutive match. When Nahida Khan (2 off 9 balls), Sidra Ameen (12 off 25 balls), Bismah Maroof (15 off 39 balls) and Asmavia Iqbal (0 off 2 balls) departed in quick succession, the visitors were tottering at 60/4 in 21.4 overs. But Syeda Nain Fatima Abidi (58 off 113 balls) and all-rounder Nida Dar (68 off 83 balls) played out of their skins to help the visitors post a respectable total of 192 for 7.
In the post-match briefing, Pakistan skipper Sana Mir said, “We did well in patches in the tournament and our bowlers and fielders were exemplary on the field. However, the tougher teams are ahead of Indian and Pakistani girls on fitness and energy levels.