Muneeba hits landmark century as Pakistan defeat Ireland at T20 World Cup

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CAPE TOWN: Pakistan left-hander Muneeba Ali hit the first century of the Women’s T20 World Cup when she made 102 against Ireland at Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday, setting up a 70-run win for her team.
The bespectacled left-handed opening batter and wicketkeeper said encouragement from veteran Nida Dar during a century partnership helped her reach the milestone.

“She always had the message for me to keep going and score big,” said Muneeba.

Pakistan made 165 for five after they were sent into bat.

Ireland was bowled out for 95, with left-arm spinner Nashra Sandhu claiming career-best figures of four for 18.

The margin of the win provided a big boost to Pakistan’s net run rate and lifted their hopes of reaching the semi-finals despite losing to India in their opening match on Sunday.

The slightly-built Muneeba had not previously scored a half-century in 44 T20 internationals although she made a one-day international hundred against the same opponents in Lahore last November.

Muneeba and Dar (33) shared a third-wicket partnership of 101. Muneeba faced 68 balls and hit 14 fours.

Ireland beat Pakistan 2-1 in a T20 series in Pakistan in November but was outplayed in a match between two sides who lost their opening World Cup matches.

“We are disappointed with our performance,” said Ireland captain Laura Delany. “At the start, we gave them too much width and it was difficult to pull it back.”

Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof praised what she described as a “clinical” performance. “We have taken ten wickets, so that’s pleasing. But I still think we can get better in the next game.”

Pakistan’s remaining matches are against West Indies in Paarl on Sunday and England at Newlands on Tuesday.

Muneeba’s century was the first by any Pakistani player in a T20 women’s international.

Ireland lost openers Amy Hunter and Gaby Lewis inside the first five overs. Orla Prendergast made a spirited 31 off 21 balls and Eimear Richardson hit powerfully to make 28 off 17 deliveries. But Ireland never threatened to get near the Pakistan total.

Sandhu dismissed both the leading scorers and was the main destroyer of the Ireland batting. Pakistan had an injury scare when big-hitting batter Ayesha Naseem suffered what appeared to be a hamstring strain and had to leave the field after chasing a ball to the boundary.