Skipper Mithali Raj finally came good with an unbeaten century as Indian women beat arch-rivals Pakistan by six wickets in a seventh place play-off encounter in the ICC Women’s World Cup here on Thursday.
Already out of contention after being hammered by Sri Lanka, the ‘Women in Blue’ came up with a much improved performance as they first restricted Pakistan to 192 for seven in 50 overs and then reached the target in 46 overs at the Barabati Stadium.
Skipper Mithali, who had been woefully out of form, helped herself with an unbeaten 103 off 141 balls including 13 boundaries and a six. The only regret she would have is that her best came when it mattered the least.
Mithali added 87 runs for the unbroken fifth-wicket stand with Reema Malhotra, who remained unbeaten on 25. The Indian women were in a spot of bother at 108 for four but the Indian captain found an able ally in Malhotra as they comfortably won their last game of the tournament with consummate ease.
Mithali also enjoyed useful stands of 43 and 49 with opener Thirush Kamini (26) and Harmanpreet Kaur (16).
Earlier, the decision to bat first after winning the toss didn’t quite work for Pakistan, who were saved to a large extent due to contrasting half-centuries from Nain Abidi (58) and Nida Dar (68 not out). The Indians bowlers, led by the economical pace duo of Jhulan Goswami (2/17) and Nagarajan Niranjana (3/35), kept it tight for most part of the 50 overs.
The hosts were off to a perfect start when they sent back the Pakistani openers with just 28 runs on the board in 11 overs. But Abidi steadied the rocking boat by forging a small 32-run partnership with Bimah Maroof (15). Then came the crucial 80-run stand with Dar, which brought Pakistan back into the match.
After the settled partnership was broken, Pakistan could not accelerate in the closing stages faced with a disciplined Indian attack.PTI