Bat cast aside and hand raised amid a leap skywards, West Indies all-rounder Deandra Dottin was a woman transformed.
If a week is a long time in politics, Dottin can reflect it represents an eternity in sport.
The Sunday before last the same Grace Road setting had been a desert place. A place of testing we might say for someone who makes no secret of a strongly held Christian faith.
The 26-year-old Barbadian had been left in tears on the edge of the square in the immediate aftermath of a 10-wicket World Cup humbling by South Africa. Dottin and company were routed for just 48.
Fast forward nine soul-searching days; same place, but emotions a world away from those desolate scenes as winless Pakistan were beaten by 19 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis method in a rain-affected encounter.
Here, Dottin re-wrote the West Indies’ record books, scoring the fastest ODI hundred by a woman in their history. In 71 glorious balls, the combative right-hander had gone some way to erasing the previous humiliating blot from their landscape.
Taylor Lays Victory Foundations
Pakistan, perhaps mindful of The Windies’ previous Grace Road debacle put them in following a delayed start.
Under murky skies West Indies were soon 1-1, Hayley Matthews chipping one back to bowler Iqbal off a leading edge. Kycia Knight came out and played positively, hitting four boundaries in no time. But, when she chased a wide one from Iqbal and nicked it to wicket-keeper Sidra Nawaz it was 26-2.
If memories of the 48 all-out were lingering, skipper Stafanie Taylor and Chedean Nation only fleetingly displayed nerves. The latter hit a gorgeous straight drive off Iqbal and Taylor twice dispatched Diana Baig to the fence.
Pakistan’s spinners, skipper Sana Mir and Nashra Sundhu though wrestled back some control post the opening power-play. The pressure should have led to the run out of Nation, who was stranded halfway down when sent back by Taylor. Sadia Yousaf’s throw though wasn’t the best and in any case Sundhu had failed to get back to the stumps.
Nation (35) didn’t survive too much longer, bowled around her legs sweeping at Sundhu, ending a stand of 87. The incident though was typical of some shoddy fielding by Pakistan, several ones becoming boundaries as the pressure intensified.
Dottin produced few fireworks at first, just seven coming from her first 16 deliveries as Taylor held court. However, three fours in an over off Iqbal changed the complexion as the two Windies’ batting stars quickly took the game away from Pakistan.
Taylor’s was an innings of great merit. Her 90 off 107 balls classically made, most runs coming in front of square. Her one six came from a shot back over Sundhu’s head and Dottin joined in hitting Iqbal for a maximum over long-on.
It was a shock when Taylor fell, Baig taking a low catch off her own bowling. The Windies’ batter was distraught as she reluctantly dragged herself away from the crease.
The loss of her skipper was the cue for Dottin’s onslaught – and what an onslaught.
Her 50 came at almost exactly a run a ball, but then the woman with the fastest ever T20 hundred came off the leash.
Two more huge sixes and seven further boundaries savaged seamers and spinners alike as Dottin raced from 53 to 100 in 15 balls. The century came up in the grand manner with a glorious straight six, cuing the emotional celebrations.
She closed on 104 not out and with Merissa Aguilleira (24 not out) providing support West Indies posted 285-4. Pakistan bowled for much of the innings in light rain, making it hard for their spinners to find grip. Nevertheless, it was difficult to escape the thought their fielding had once more crumbled under pressure.
Pakistan’s Tactical Clanger
Rain delayed the restart and the revised target of 245 off 38 did Pakistan few favours.
To their credit they played positively, even after Ayesha Zafar perished early, her cross-bat shot failing to clear mid-on.
Bibi Nahida and Javeria Khan though capitalized on some loose balls to stay in touch with the Duckworth-Lewis par score. Khan twice lofted shots just out of the reach of fielders in reaching 50 from 66 balls, while Nahida accumulated at close to a run a ball.
Inexplicably in such a tight chase, they failed to call for the second powerplay and the rain returned just as the 20 overs necessary to constitute a match was reached.
In her haste to make up the small Duckworth-Lewis deficit Nahida swung and missed a full ball from Anisha Mohammed and was bowled. Mohammed became the fourth highest wicket-taker in women’s ODI’s with 142 victims minutes later when Iram Javed skied her to cover.
With that dismissal, the umpires took the players off once more. They didn’t return again, leaving West Indies narrow but deserved winners.
Pakistan, for whom Khan finished 58 not out will take some heart into what will now be a wooden spoon match with Sri Lanka at Grace Road on Saturday.
As for the Windies, Dottin’s heroics won’t win them the Women’s World Cup. They will still head home early following their final group game with hosts England the same day.
Dottin though will know she has given the Caribbean Islanders something to smile about again. The spiritual songs their pre-match huddles have become famous for will be all the sweeter because of it.