Photo Credit: ICC
Before they even arrived in New Zealand, Nigar Sultana was adamant Bangladesh would not measure their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 success in runs, wickets or points.
This was about proving to the world that the Tigresses belong at the top table of international women’s cricket, to attract other nations to play them and inspire a generation of Bangladeshi women to pick up a bat or ball. This win will surely achieve all three.
14 March 2022 will forever be one of the most important dates in the history of Bangladesh cricket and their maiden World Cup win against Pakistan might just be the most significant result of the tournament so far, for what it means to the international game as much as to the race for the semi-finals.
Bangladesh might know Pakistan well – they have met 12 times in the past 10 years – and share the head-to-head series with six wins each but none of their five previous successes would have been as sweet as this nine-run victory.
The impact of this result on women’s cricket back home will be immeasurable and it’s far from a stretch to say millions will have been watching and listening around breakfast tables from Dhaka to Chittagong and everywhere in between, as their team completed a major milestone at just past 10.30am local time.
“I cannot describe this in words,” Nigar said. “This is our first-ever win in World Cups. We have made history today.”
Like their captain, Bangladesh are determined, unflappable and unafraid – it is little wonder they have scaled these heights under her captaincy – and they needed all of those traits at Seddon Park, as Pakistan gave them all they could handle.
Pakistan, batting second after winning the toss, had the cards stacked in their favour thanks to Sidra Amin steering them to a winning position.
Their run-rate might have been slow but they arrived at the 40th over needing just 67 runs and with eight wickets in hand. All very achievable at a ground where the perceived wisdom is to always bat second.
Bangladesh needed an answer and Nigar turned to one of her trump cards, Fahima Khatun, to change the match.
Just like Fargana Hoque, who made 71 with the bat as Bangladesh compiled 234 for seven in their innings, Fahima wrote her name into the history books.
The leg-spinner took three wickets to rip the heart out of Pakistan’s batting line-up and leave Sidra isolated, while also bowling economically to drive up the required run-rate.
On a slow pitch, where hitting boundaries was difficult, the pressure was too much for Pakistan and though the score says they lost by nine runs, they rarely threatened to actually chase down the target in the final five overs – especially once Sidra departed for 104.
Fahima was named Player of the Match but the award could have gone to any of the three players who made an indelible mark on the game.
Sidra’s century – her first ever in ODIs – was an exhibition of skill and concentration, while Fargana’s 71 was equally important as it anchored Bangladesh’s innings.
“Today wicket was slow and turning,” Fargana said.
“Then I realised that I need to use my feet and find the gaps to score runs. We tried to score in chunks of 20 runs.”
A team record ODI score was the result and Pakistan could not match it, falling short in the second innings just as they did against South Africa on Friday.
Now, Bangladesh have a few days off before they play West Indies on Thursday, a match they can approach with confidence and increased belief.
Nigar was quick to add that this is just the beginning and her team will not stop pushing. They will celebrate the win but this is far from job done – both on and off the pitch as they continue to create a legacy that will last for generations.