It may not yet have the aura of Virat Kohli's India taking on Sarfraz Ahmed's Pakistan but a women's World T20 clash between India and Pakistan looks just as lip-smacking as the men's version. The two teams go head-to-head at Guyana on Sunday for the World T20 2018 with women's cricket having more coverage on television than ever before.
“Pakistan ke saath khelne ka jo maja aata hai , wo kisi aur ke saath khelne me nahi aata (The fun of playing Pakistan is unmatched),” Jhulan Goswami's words from a 2005-06 India women's Asia Cup tour in Pakistan is resonating even more today as women's cricket is viewed with as much anticipation and vehemence as men's cricket.
Indian women's side taking on their Pakistan counterparts invoke as much enthusiasm and excitement these days and the buzz before the World T20 clash between the two sides is unmistakable. India Women thrashed second-ranked White Ferns in their opening game while Pakistan will be coming into the game against India on the back of a loss against the indomitable Australia Women.
Here we take a walk down memory lane, exploring some interesting head-to-head clashes from the women's version of the history between the two nations.
Women's World T20 2012, Galle
Having brushed aside their arch-rivals in the 2010 World T20 by nine wickets, Mithali Raj-led India were favorites to pull off another comfortable win against Pakistan in the group stage game between the two sides. At a picturesque Galle, Pakistan’s slow bowlers, Nida Dar and Bismah Maroof, helped pull off the impossible. With a par total of 98 to defend, Pakistan's spinners choked the run flow and pushed India’s much touted batting line-up to the precipice.
Needing four to win off the last ball, Niranjana Nagarajan drilled Sana Mir along the ground and set off for a triple to tie the game. The outfielding, though, was excellent and resulted in a run-out after India had run just two, giving Pakistan a one-run win.
"That was the first time a Pakistan team, men or women, had beaten India in a World Cup. We had a mental block before that that we could not beat India because we had never beaten them,” Sana Mir, Pakistan's skipper then, was quoted as saying later.
The marginal victory turned out to be a beginning of sorts for the rivalry to take shape in women's cricket.
Women's World T20 2014, Sylhet
Indian women got a taste of sledging as they faced Pakistan in a play-off clash at Sylhet in the 2014 World T20. A year before Pakistan women's side saw their World Cup matches moved from Mumbai to Cuttack after threats from Shiv Sena and it seemed like the vengeance turned bitter when the two faced off in Bangladesh in 2014 in the World T20.
Opting to bat first, Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana took India to 106 in 20 overs, not competitive by any means but a fighting total on a low and slow wicket. Despite Nida Dar’s late onslaught, India edged home by six runs to win a nail-biting encounter.
The off-field battle continued as Mithali Raj expressed concerns regarding sledging to the match referee. “When you have some terms used, it gets far beyond sledging, which was used against me in that match. Of course I felt very bad, because in my entire life people have not abused me,” Raj said at the time, establishing the rivalry between the two sides in print.
Women's World T20 2016, Delhi
In another closely fought, rain-marred contest in the group stage of the Women's World T20 in 2016, Pakistan edged hosts India by two runs courtesy Duckworth-Lewis method. The match is also known for being the first between the two sides where players from both teams were centrally contracted.
Batting first, India ambled along to 96 in the full quota of overs with Veda Krishnamurthy providing the final impetus in a 19-ball 24.
Pakistan's run-chase began well as opener Sidra Ameen scored a run-a-ball 26 and stitched useful stands for the first two wickets. At 48/2, it appeared to be Pakistan's game to lose but India made a strong comeback, picking up a couple of wickets and effecting two more run-outs. When the rain came down, Pakistan were 77/6, two runs ahead on the par Duckworth-Lewis score. It remained that way as the visitors registered only their second win in the format against India.
Incidentally, on the same day in Kolkata, Indian men's side pulled off a comfortable six wicket win over Pakistan in another World T20 clash.
Women's T20 Asia Cup, Bangkok
Nain Abidi's unbeaten 37 took Pakistan to 97/7 in their quota of overs at Bangkok as Ekta Bisht, Harmanpreet Kaur and Anuja Patil reigned supreme with the ball. A major hurdle for India’s batting line-up were the slew of Pakistan spinners. Sana Mir, Anam Amin, Sadia Yousuf and Nida Dar made life difficult for India’s authoritative batting unit.
While Mithali Raj, who had openly stated she loved opening the batting in this format, set the tempo for the chase with a well-composed 36, Sana Mir had her caught and bowled in the 17th over with India still 21 away from a win. Harmanpreet Kaur, who was batting with Raj, took over and remained unbeaten on 26 to take India home with four balls to spare.
The two sides went on to meet again in the finals of the tournament and India went on to register a comfortable win - by 17 runs - to take home the title.