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Pakistan women top group

A fascinating day's cricket played in splendid sunshine at the picturesque Malahide ground sees Pakistan hold the upper hand after the first day of the RSA Twenty20 Challenge series.

The Asian side defeated both English first division side Nottinghamshire and Ireland in close contests, being pushed all the way by their less experienced opponents before ultimately prevailing.

In the first game of the day, Notts were restricted to a total of 96/9, depsite being given a breezy start by Hazelle Garton (30), and Jane Smit (17). The experienced Amanda Bacon (11*) ensured Notts batted out their allocation of overs, but it was always felt their total was a little below par.

The Pakistani bowling triumvirate of Urooj Mumtaz, Sana Mir and Armaan Khan took two wickets apiece in a fine bowling display, backed up by enthusiastic and athletic fielding.

In reply, an early burst from Nicola Myers (2-9), and Jaz Titmuss (1-9) had Pakistan reeling at 7 for 3, but 40 from just 37 balls by Nazia Sadiq, and a composed undefeated 23 from Urooj Mumtaz, saw Pakistan prevail by 5 wickets with 13 balls to spare.

In the second game of the challenge series, Ireland were well in command at 52 for 1 after 9 overs, following fine knocks by Clare Shillington (29), and Eimear Richardson (23). However, the innings lost its momentum, as Sana Mir (4-13) spun her magic, to which the Irish had no answer.

Once again the Irish running between the wickets left a lot to be desired, suffering three run outs, and with Mumtaz (2-4) also in fine form, the Irish finished on a disappointing 86/9.

A fiery opening spell from skipper Heather Whelan (3-11), and two wickets from spinner Eimear Richardson left Ireland with a genuine chance of victory, as Pakistan faltered to 61 for 7. However an unbroken 8th wicket stand of 26 between Javeria Khan (16*) , and Azmavia Iqbal (12*), saw their team home with 2.1 overs and 3 wickets in hand.

The final game was yet another close contest, as Ireland gave the substantial home crowd something to cheer about with a last over victory over Notts.

Facing a challenging target of 112 for victory, Ireland needed five from the final over, and Amy Kenealy proved up to the task striking a four from the first delivery, and scrambling a single from the fourth.

Cecelia Joyce, returning to the side following injury, top scored with 26, while Clare Shillington impressed with a well manufactured 23. Isobel Joyce made 12, but the Irish total was boosted by the concession of 19 wides by Notts.

The Irish were equally guilty of wastefulness in their dispaly of the field - they conceded 21 wides and also two no balls - which saw the harsh removal of Melissa Scott-Hayward from the attack.

Amanada Bacon (31*) top scored, while there were entertaining cameos from Jane Smith (17) and Jaz Titmuss (13) in the Notts total of 111/9.

Jill Whelan (3-33) and Isobel Joyce (2-19) were the most successful of the Irish attack.

Photographs