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June 7, 2013
West Indies 172 for 8 (Gayle 39, Samuels 30, Irfan 3-32) beat Pakistan 170 (Misbah 96*, Jamshed 50, Roach 3-28) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Whatever your persuasion when it comes to one-day cricket the Champions Trophy looks set to offer something for everyone. After the high-scoring opening match in Cardiff, there was a low-scoring nail-biter at The Oval with West Indies surviving major problems against Pakistan's pace and spin combination to secure a priceless two-wicket victory.
Amid a passionate, excitable crowd dominated by Pakistan support - this is arguably the closest they will get to a home crowd given their current situation - West Indies, who themselves used to have a vast following at The Oval in the 1970s and 1980s, threatened to throw away their outstanding work in the field with a nervous batting display. They eventually limped over the line with Denesh Ramdin and Kemar Roach at the crease: a wicketkeeper and a pace bowler, as it was in the darkness for the triumph in 2004.
Perhaps aware that pushing and prodding was dangerous, Ramdin and Sunil Narine did not try to eke their way to the target after Dwayne Bravo, in his first match as captain, was lbw to Saeed Ajmal with 28 still required. The bold, and occasionally reckless, approach quickly sunk the requirement down to six only for Narine to edge Mohammad Irfan behind. A few tense deliveries followed until Roach, in the spirit of Ian Bradshaw, scythed a boundary over the off side.
Pakistan's bowlers, as they have regularly in the past, so nearly rescued their batsmen. Irfan's bounce was intimidating, Wahab Riaz's pace unsettling and Saeed Ajmal's variations beguiling. But, after just two of their batsmen reached double figures - Misbah-ul-Haq ended unbeaten on a career-best 96 - they were just short of runs.
Despite losing two early wickets against the towering Irfan, a partnership of 63 between Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels had made significant inroads into the chase and brought the requirement down below 100. Then a well-flighted doosra from Ajmal flummoxed Gayle as he tried to launch it over the leg side and Pakistan sensed their opening.
Wahab, on the ground where he took a five-wicket haul on his Test debut in 2010, bowled with pace and controlled aggression throughout - occasionally nudging 90mph - and produced a lifting delivery which brushed Ramnaresh Sarwan's edge.
Samuels had unfurled a couple of the sparkling off-drives which lit up the previous English season, but when he charged at Mohammad Hafeez and was beaten by the drift the game had edged back in Pakistan's favour.
Kieron Pollard, shelving almost all his natural instincts apart from one straight blow for six, produced probably his most cautious one-day innings - taking 18 balls to get off the mark - alongside Bravo which changed the balance of power again. But Pollard was another batsman undone by pace and bounce as Kamran Akmal completed the fourth of his five dismissals and West Indies' lower-order depth was severely tested.
It was a fantastic match for those who enjoy their cricket with the ball holding sway. Roach knocked over the top of Pakistan's batting with three wickets in his first four overs, leaving them 15 for 3, and Narine sparked another collapse in the middle order with six wickets falling for 33.
Either side of those wobbles, Nasir Jamshed and Misbah repaired a lot of the early damage with a fourth-wicket stand of 90, only for it to be wastefully given away amid rash shots and run outs from the lower order. Only Irfan, at No. 11, showed the common sense to try and stay with his captain but could not quite help him to a maiden one-day hundred.
During the tense finish, the 32 runs added for the last wicket were shaping as vital, as was the let-off Misbah received before he had scored which did not cast Ramdin in a glowing light. It was not just a simple dropped chance; Ramdin initially gathered the inside edge which would have given Roach his fourth wicket but in falling to his left the ball escaped his gloves.
Although it was clearly grounded, Ramdin then rolled the ball to the square-leg umpire and claimed the catch. Perhaps he was unaware of the Law that the fielder has to also be in control of the release - and not just the catch - but it did not look good for Ramdin on replays.
If the chance had been cleanly taken, Pakistan would have been 17 for 4. Roach roughed up their top order with an outstanding six-over spell which had begun by removing Imran Farhat in the opening over. Hafeez was bowled by a full, straight delivery which he played around and then Asad Shafiq, suckered in by some extra bounce, cut to third man. By now, Bravo was responding with the "attacking" brand of cricket he promised by setting fields that included three slips, a short leg and a leg gully.
Mishab took 14 balls to score - not that he gets flustered by such issues - and when he burst out of his shell with a straight six off Pollard, Pakistan were beginning to prosper for the first time. But it all began to unravel again when Jamshed, two balls after reaching a grafting fifty, picked out long-off. Three deliveries later Shoaib Malik - surrounded by close fielders - chipped to short midwicket and Akmal became Narine's third when he edged a cut. Despite Misbah's resilience, and the skills of his bowlers, it was a costly collapse.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?