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Women’s T20 World Cup: West Indies squeeze past Pakistan in thriller

Paarl (South Africa), Feb 19 (IANS) Former champions West Indies kept their slender semifinal hopes alive with a nail-biting three-run win over Pakistan that went down to the last ball.

Bidding to build on their win over Ireland, West Indies, who won the title in 2016 in India, opted to bat and posted a below-par 116/6 at Boland Park here.

Skipper Hayley Matthews took key Pakistan wickets early and late in the innings to inspire her side to a dramatic victory. Matthews and Rashada Williams flayed 15 from the bowling of Aiman Anwer in the fourth over but navigated the powerplay in a cagey fashion.

Matthews perished late in the powerplay when she tried to lift Fatima Sana over the midwicket boundary but only found the hands of Sidra Ameen. It was a massive wicket that sparked wild celebrations but not a flurry of scalps as Shemaine Campbelle joined Williams and the pair put on 40 at a run-a-ball.

The second-wicket stand came to a tame end when Williams offered a simple return catch to the outstanding Sadia Iqbal to depart for 30. Chinelle Henry muscled two boundaries but was trapped in front by Nida Dar for 11 and Campbelle went in the next over, smartly stumped by Muneeba Ali.

Nida Dar bowled Aaliyah Alleyne in the penultimate over, her 125th T20I wicket, making her the joint-leading wicket-taker in the history of the format.

Pakistan began cautiously in their chase of a 117-run target and it was Windies game-changer Matthews who got the breakthrough, dismissing the dangerous Muneeba Ali for five in the fourth over.

Matthews was at the heart of the action again two balls later when she took a sharp catch at midwicket to account for Sidra Ameen, with Pakistan 15 for two.

The experienced pairing of Bismah and Nida then embarked on a measured partnership that rarely got out of first gear until the latter whipped Henry to the midwicket fence in the 13th.

Nida looked to go aerial again in the next over but was deceived in the flight by Afy Fletcher and caught at extra cover by Karishma Ramharack, with 57 runs still required. Pakistan have been by some distance the best finishers at this tournament and Aliya Riaz began to free her arms.

But she lost the stabilising influence of Bismah who was given out LBW on review after mistiming a reverse sweep off the bowling of Matthews. Aliya and Fatima needed 18 from the final over and they took 13 from Shamilia Connell’s first four balls with some brilliant hitting, before Aliya chopped onto her own stumps to dramatically end Pakistan’s hopes.

Brief scores:

West Indies 116/6 in 20 overs (Rashada Williams 30, Shemaine Campbelle 22; Nida Dar 2-13, Fatima Sana 1-10) beat Pakistan 113/5 in 20 overs (Aliya Riaz 29, Nida Dar 27; Hayley Matthews 2-14, Karishma Ramharack 1-18) by three runs.