At 35, she is closer to the end of her career than it is to the beginning, but her contributions to Pakistan are elusive. She is a path breaker in every way – Pakistan’s first – male or female – to 100 wickets in T20Is, the first Pakistani player in the WBBL. the first… you get the point.
Dar’s percussion also has an industrious side. That’s how she surprises her opponents. One minute she’s completely new to the fold. Next up is 12 out of 8. Today Dar didn’t play point ball until her 11th delivery, when she had already crossed two boundaries. She swept Radha Yadav to beat deep square, then stepped out with mid-on to knock Rajeshwari Gayakwad to the ground. If India thought they could get some quiet overs, they were wrong.
The secret to Dar’s success against spider is not half measures. When she gets out, she is fully committed. This sentencing could catch bowlers by surprise, as Gayakwad immediately asked for mid-on and square leg to go back. D Hemalatha was not spared either, as her outbursts proved to be the right fodder for Dar to kick-start Pakistan’s revival.
Dar’s punching power has never been questioned, but at the ODI World Cup earlier this year, she shared how her WBBL stint had helped change the way she saw the game and herself. How range hitting, an alien concept for young girls in Pakistan, was as specific a skill as bowling yorkers or catching catches. How she would have benefited from training not harder, but smarter.
This new and improved version of Dar knows how to turn games around, and in style too. The sashay across the field to pull Pooja Vastrakar out of the ground was such a big statement you could make without even trying. Her 76-run stand with Bismah Maroof stung India before they even realized what was really happening to them.
By the time she walked out, Dar had raised Pakistan to 137 for 6. Still, there was a looming belief that India might be a Smriti Mandhana special, a long way from closing the deal. There was still work to be done.
And she stuck to it even after a catch fell off her bowling. In the final over of the power play, Dar Jemimah rocked Rodrigues in a big shot. What Rodrigues failed to take into account was the drift that made her reach for the ball. The end result was a cut catch to back point. At death, as the scales slowly tipped in India’s direction, Dar came back and delivered the knockout blow when she had out of Harmanpreet’s hole too long.
Arms up, big smile, grin to the left, high five to the right – Dar’s Afridi-esque celebration told you the story of a bowler in charge. It told you how Dar delivered the same intensity she demanded from her team after the loss in Thailand.
All these years later she is still working on it. Bowling as if her life depended on it, batting as if she were the life jacket of a team that wants to turn the tide. In two of their three victories over India, Dar has played a vital role. Friday’s game was played in front of 2000 fans and many more on TV. It’s entirely possible that her brothers were among those who watched with pride as Dar wrote a memorable victory.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo