KARACHI: Sri Lanka women fell prey to Ghulam Fatima’s leg-spin show as Pakistan drew first blood in the three-match One-day International series here at the Southend Club on Wednesday.
The spinner registered her career-best figures of 4-21 in 10 overs, helping Pakistan restrict Sri Lanka to 169, before the hosts’ captain Bismah Maroof and Sidra Ameen ensured they chased it down with 49 balls and eight wickets to spare.
Ghulam bulldozed through the Sri Lanka middle order soon after Sadia Iqbal dismissed Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu (25 off 39), who had put up 39 with Hansima Karunaratne (12 off 40) for the second wicket, after losing opener Hasini Perera to a run out early after they won the toss to bat first.
An over later and with no runs added to the total, Karunaratne became Ghulam’s first victim after miscuing a hit for Bismah to take an easy catch at short cover.
With Sri Lanka reeling at 3-46, the incoming Prasadani Weerakkody (30 off 44) and Nilakshi de Silva (16 off 46) tried to rescue the visitors by combining for 50 for the fourth wicket. However, Sadia was the partnership breaker once again when she found de Silva’s edge for wicket-keeper Sidra Nawaz to grab it cleanly.
Ghulam then capitalised on the breakthrough to enforce a stumping to dismiss Weerakkody and bowled Oshadi Ranasinghe for a duck as Sri Lanka lost three wickets in a space of just four balls.
What followed was Kavisha Dilhari’s rearguard action, with the batter hitting an unbeaten 49 off 50 which included five fours and a six. Fatima Sana (2-24) removed tailenders Inoka Ranaweera and Achini Kulasuriya.
“I had a wish to play in a home series, I was trying to execute what I knew and it came off,” Ghulam said after the match. “I draw inspiration from Shane Warne.”
Pakistan were hardly under any pressure with the target on the board, but took their time to achieve it. They lost opener Muneeba Ali (14 off 28) to Achini Kulasuirya early but the second wicket, that of Sidra Ameen, fell almost 34 overs later.
The right-hander departed after scoring 76 off 119 (seven fours), out of which 72 runs came as a part of her 143-run partnership with Bismah for the second wicket, with the Pakistan captain hitting an unbeaten 62 off 101 balls. Bismah smashed five fours in her knock.
The win meant Pakistan got their first points in the ICC Women’s Championship campaign. The World Cup qualifying process will see 10 teams playing four home and four away series, with the top four qualifying directly to the 2025 showpiece.
“We want these points and we worked hard on a hot day,” said Bismah. “Credit to Sidra. It got low when we were batting, the bowling was excellent too.
“I’m trying to finish the job and support Sidra, who played really well.
“We’ll look to keep up the intensity and win the following matches too.”
Sri Lankan skipper Athapaththu expressed disappointment over the team’s batting performance.
“Our batters did not play positively, the wicket is excellent but we lost early wickets, the run outs were bad,” she said.
“Kavisha played a good knock and is a positive. We have to stick to our plans and play freely; that’s my message for the team.”
The remaining two ODIs will be played at the same venue on Friday and Sunday.
SRI LANKA 169 in 20 overs (Kavisha Dilhari 49 not out, Prasadani Weerakkody 30; Ghulam Fatima 4-21); PAKISTAN 170 for 2 in 41.5 overs (Sidra Ameen 76, Bismah Maroof 62 not out; Achini Kulasuriya 13-1).