Ireland women’s team on Wednesday clinched a historic first T20I series victory over Pakistan, as a brilliant half-century from Gaby Lewis set up their seven-wicket triumph in the final match of the series at Gaddafi Stadium.
While Gaby top-scored with a 46-ball 71, laced with 11 fours and a six at a strike-rate of 154.34, her opening partner Amy Hunter contributed 40 in a 110-run stand, falling just three runs short of an Ireland record for a T20I partnership.
After making 167/4 in 20 overs, Ireland bowled out Pakistan for just 133 in 18.5 overs. With the ball, Arlene Kelly and Laura Delany picked three wickets each while Jane Maguire had two scalps and Eimear Richardson had a wicket.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Amy and Gaby vindicated Laura’s decision straight away, as four boundaries came off the first three overs. Gaby was the main aggressor, bludgeoning a slog-sweep off Nida Dar over the rope for the first six of the match.
She followed up with a four off the last ball of Dar’s over before smashing two more boundaries off the fourth. Amy took a back seat early in her innings to let Lewis occupy centre stage. After they smashed 56 runs from the powerplay, Gaby reached her fifty in style, reverse sweeping a full ball from Fatima Sana through third man for four, bringing up her ninth T20I half-century off 26 balls.
With the hundred up for Ireland in the 12th over, a big total looked on the cards. Amy played a good supporting innings before she was bowled by Nashra Sandhu for a 35-ball 40. Orla Prendergast began attacking straight away, hitting a six off her second ball over long-on.
Gaby was well set, continuing to hit boundaries, and advancing past 70 before she was caught at mid-on by Aliya Riaz, unable to get enough height on the ball from Sana to clear the fielder.
Despite the loss of Gaby and then of Eimear, Orla continued to push Ireland up towards 170. She crunched ten off the final over to set Pakistan 168 to win and send Ireland into the break full of confidence. Pakistan would have to pull off their highest-ever T20I chase to stop Ireland from claiming a historic win.
In defence, Ireland conceded only eight runs off the first two overs before Jane made the breakthrough, dismissing Sidra Ameen in the third over. Pakistan looked to take the chase deep, accumulating off the rest of the powerplay to take their total to 41. A big breakthrough for Ireland came in the seventh over as Arlene delivered a clever slower ball to outsmart Muneeba Ali.
With some nerves flying around for Ireland, the final two overs before the drinks break went for 25 as Pakistan continued to keep themselves in the run chase. Javeria Khan was the key, reaching fifty off 36 balls before Jane took her out. Javeria got an inside edge on a ball she was looking to cut, but her stumps were disturbed. The wicket brought the dangerous Nida to the crease, with Pakistan’s chase largely resting on her wicket.
A four and a six by Nida from Cara Murray showed the match was still very much in the balance with Pakistan needing another 80 runs from the last eight, a target possible with captain Bismah Maroof and Dar at the crease. But a run out from Richardson to dismiss Bismah opened the floodgates for Ireland, and a steady flow of wickets followed.
Two wickets in each of the last two overs from Arlene and Laura sealed a comfortable win by 34 runs for Ireland and gave Ed Joyce’s side a historic series win. The first time Ireland women have won a series against Pakistan, their first series win overseas against a Test playing nation and the first for any Ireland side in Pakistan.
Brief Scores: Ireland 167/4 in 20 overs (Gaby Lewis 71, Amy Hunter 40, Nida Dar 1/27) beat Pakistan 133 all out in 18.5 overs (Javeria Khan 50, Nida Dar 26, Arlene Kelly 3/19, Laura Delany 3/20) by 34 runs