After losses to Australia and India, Pakistan did everything they could to make sure they got full points from the game against Ireland, said left-arm spinner Nashra Sandhu.
Another defeat at the ICC Women's World T20 2018 would have meant certain elimination. The gravity of that situation spurred Pakistan on, and they put in a strong effort to come out on top against Ireland by 38 runs.
Pakistan did find themselves in a slight bit of early bother with opener Nahida Khan falling for just 10, but the arrival of skipper Javeria Khan to the crease changed the complexion of the game. Although her partners at the other end came and went, she rallied on to score an excellent 52-ball 74*, taking the team total to 139/6 – Pakistan's highest in Women's World T20 history.
Pakistan claim their first points of @WorldT20 2018! 🇵🇰— ICC (@ICC) November 13, 2018
Ireland are kept to 101/9 by after Javeria Khan's 74* set up a 38 run win in Guyana. #PAKvIRE scorecard and highlights ➡️ https://t.co/Lt5byghJ8M pic.twitter.com/JbCUzwVNYw
The bowlers were put under a little bit of pressure early on too, but they responded very well. Sandhu, in particular, was outstanding as she conceded just eight runs from her full quota of overs, while also picking up key wickets of Clare Shillington and Eimear Richardson. Sana Mir, Aiman Anwer and Aliya Riaz also chipped in with two wickets apiece, restricting Ireland to just 101/9.
"We didn't perform too well in the previous matches, but today we had to do well because if we lost this match we couldn't qualify," Sandhu, whose spin yielded 2/8 in four overs, said. "It was a crucial match for us to win, so we put in all our efforts to win this match."
Pakistan might have felt some extra pressure coming into this game, not only because of their perform-or-perish situation but also because Ireland had spoken of targeting them as the team they had the best chance of beating. But Pakistan were confident.
"It was a big pressure match but we had confidence on the bowlers and batters (that they) would perform good," Sandhu said.
"Actually we were not pressurised (after the fall of early wickets). We were calm because we have plenty of good batters in our order. Our batters performed consistently throughout the tournament. Bismah (Maroof) made 50 in the last match against India. It was a good performance by our team. We were like confident on the batters so they could perform easily in this match also."
Pakistan may have put up a decent score with the bat, but the job was still only half-done. It was upto the bowlers to make a good defence, and no one stood up to the task quite like Sandhu, whom batsmen simply weren't able to get away without risking wickets. The secret to doing well? Just the basics.
"Just have to bowl consistently on a better line – it was a little bit turn in the pitch. Just have to bowl consistently on the better line and just to check the feet of the batters. Are they using their feet or like their stand position, using their crease or not," she explained.
To keep themselves in contention for qualification for the next round, Pakistan will look to also win their next game against New Zealand at Guyana on 16 November.