Muneeba Ali’s century powered Pakistan to a 70-run victory over Ireland for their first win of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.

The wicketkeeper-batter became the first Pakistani woman to hit a hundred in a T20 international to propel her side to 165 for five.

Muneeba Ali on her way to a maiden century in the match (ICC)

In reply, Ireland stuttered as Nashra Sundhu picked up four wickets for 18 from her four overs as Orla Prendergast and Eimear Richardson’s contributions were not enough to stop their second defeat.

Opener Muneeba led the charge for Pakistan, scoring 33 of the 44 runs she and Javeria Khan put on for the first wicket before Javeria was run out by Mary Waldron.

Captain Bismah Maroof added only four runs to the 68 not out she made against India as Arlene Kelly’s fingertips just clung on to a low catch to reduce Pakistan to 55 for two.

The wicket brought out Nida Dar, who unusually played the patient role next to Muneeba, who brought up her half-century from 40 balls by surviving the first of two drops by Louise Little.

Muneeba began to put on show for the crowd, as she brought up Pakistan’s one hundred by pulling Laura Delany on one knee for the second of back-to-back boundaries.

Nida was not to be out done, dancing down the wicket to smash Cara Murray for six, but she could only watch as Muneeba raced past her best score of 75 to become Pakistan’s highest scorer in T20Is.

With eight balls of the innings remaining, Muneeba brought up her maiden T20I hundred, the sixth scored in ICC Women’s T20 World Cups.

In an eventful over, the hundred partnership followed a ball later, before Muneeba departed for 102 from 67 off Leah Paul’s final delivery, and was welcomed back to the dug out with a standing ovation and a hug from a beaming Bismah.

Nida and Ayesha Naseem also fell in the final over but it did not remove the skipper’s smile as Pakistan set Ireland 166 to win.

Ireland’s lost steady wickets due lapses of concentrations, starting with Amy Hunter, who departed in the second over as Nashra took a fine catch over her shoulder.

Nida bowled four dot balls in a row and then had Gaby Lewis caught behind by Muneeba, who was never far from the action at Newlands.

Prendergast gave Ireland a platform with a fluent 31, including back-to-back boundaries, but her luck ran out when she was caught by Sadia Iqbal for Nashra’s second wicket.

Tuba Hassan then took her first World Cup wicket by dismissing Delany for eight.

Richardson was searching for a partner, but could only watch on as Little was stumped by Muneeba for three. However, unperturbed, the right hander started to find the boundary consistently, taking 16 runs off Aliya Riaz’s first over.

However, she was next to depart when attempting a scoop, before Javeria caught  Waldron to give Nashra her best figures of four for 18 and reduce Ireland to 89 for seven.

Unlike Ireland, Pakistan were sharp in the field, as Kelly departed for just one thanks to a low catch from Aiman Anwer.

Murray and Paul were the final two victims as Pakistan wrapped up the victory with 21 balls remaining