Youhana steers Pakistan to final
Pakistan 8 for 307 (Youhana 105, Inzamam 74) beat West Indies 277 (Sarwan 87, Chanderpaul 58, Naved 4-29) by 30 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Pakistan sealed a spot in the VB Series finals by dismissing a brave West Indian challenge in a high-energy clash at the WACA in Perth. Defending an impressive 307, which was set up by a masterful century from Yousuf Youhana and a muscular finish, Pakistan were given a scare when Ramnaresh Sarwan took West Indies to within striking range. But Pakistan struck back with three quick middle-order wickets and held on for a 30-run victory.
Youhana was chiefly responsible for the massive total with a perfectly-timed century as Pakistan looked to their experienced players to revive them after a jittery start in the tournament's last preliminary match. The wobbles returned in the first 33 overs of the second innings before Shahid Afridi wrestled back control with Sarwan's crucial wicket, as West Indies lost three wickets for nine runs, to slip to 6 for 203.
Wavell Hinds and Courtney Browne kept West Indies' interest with a 54-run burst, but when Hinds holed out to Inzamam-ul-Haq the contest was all but over. The result sent Brian Lara's side home while Pakistan prepared to face Australia in the first final at Melbourne on Friday.
Until Sarwan departed, West Indies were travelling comfortably at the required speed and with he and Shivnarine Chanderpaul skipping merrily the target seemed easily achievable. Australia has not been Sarwan's favourite destination, but he looked appeared to have reinvented himself with a display of crisp strokeplay that helped him dominate the scoring.
Quick to pull and composed off the back foot, Sarwan controlled the early charge without slogging and breezed like the Fremantle doctor to his fifty, which included seven fours off 44 balls. When Salman Butt dropped an easy catch off Sarwan in the 25th over it appeared to have cost Pakistan the game, but Kamran Akmal's smart stumping off Afridi eight overs later made up for the miss (4 for 194).
Chanderpaul assumed the responsibilities of the senior partner but his role was brief as he chipped to Inzamam at short cover and walked off with 58 when a century was a prerequisite for victory. Afridi then struck Dwayne Bravo's middle stump and Pakistan celebrated wildly, and a touch prematurely.
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, the most impressive Pakistan bowler, closed out the match with the wickets of Ian Bradshaw and Browne with some tight overs. Naved had bowled a tricky, swinging spell at the beginning of the innings and gave Pakistan an ideal start when Chris Gayle was caught behind from the third ball (1 for 0). He soon added Ricardo Powell with an outswinger that brushed his angled bat (2 for 67). Lara, who made 156 against Pakistan on Friday, opened with two crashing, slashing boundaries off the back foot, but his brief flurry ended with a top-edged pull off Mohammad Khalil (3 for 99).
Pakistan were also in early difficulty after being sent in by Lara and struggled to 3 for 102 from a listless opening 25 overs. But their most responsible pair cleverly and stunningly lifted them as runs in the second half of the innings were greedily grabbed at eight an over. Youhana, who raised his bat in the 49th, and Inzamam first patched up the innings and then made it gleam with vibrant strokeplay and a 134-run stand in 19.4 overs. Afridi added the final-overs polish with 23 off 10 balls, including two large sixes.
During the series Pakistan's batting pace has been slow, steady, then speedy. Using a more traditional approach alongside a cupboard of lower-order blasters, Youhana collected his 105 off 100 deliveries through cover-drives, cuts, clever nudges and only nine boundaries.
Inzamam preferred the legside and the innings started to take a vertical lean around the 30-over mark. The combination boosted the run-rate until Inzamam's satisfaction at reviving his team was upset by Dwayne Bravo's slower ball (4 for 224). Inzamam correctly believed Pakistan's greater knowledge of the WACA would help book a finals appointment, but his batsmen were initially uncomfortable with the extra bounce.
In the first 10 overs there were more runs scored in pick-up games on the hill than the 34 in the middle, and what should have been a cut-throat contest carried the intensity of an optional training session. The dismissals of Butt and Akmal, who both fell to Bradshaw, almost came as a relief - they were in no hurry to use the field restrictions and blocked the heavily talented line-up. Pakistan managed to boost the total despite the sluggish start but they will need to rectify the early-over lethargy in the finals against Australia.
Peter English is Australasian editor of Cricinfo