Pakistan v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi October 5, 2016

Azam's third ton in a row leads Pakistan to 3-0


Pakistan 308 for 6 (Azam 117, Azhar 101, Joseph 2-62) beat West Indies 172 (Ramdin 37, Nawaz 3-40, Wahab 2-28) by 136 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Babar Azam became the third Pakistan player - and eighth overall - to score three consecutive ODI centuries as he top-scored with a 106-ball 117 in Pakistan's commanding 136-run victory over West Indies in Abu Dhabi. The win completed Pakistan's 3-0 sweep of the ODI series and enabled them to displace West Indies at No. 8 in the ODI rankings.

Azam put on a run-a-ball 147 for the second wicket with captain Azhar Ali, who scored a century of his own to become the only Pakistan player to score three hundreds as ODI captain. The top-order hundreds formed the backbone of Pakistan's total of 308 for 6, a score that looked beyond West Indies almost from the start of their scratchy, plodding reply.

The margin of victory could have been even bigger had Pakistan's middle- and lower-order batsmen fully capitalised on the strong launchpad provided by Azam and Azhar. Pakistan had moved to 232 for 2 by the time their partnership had been broken in the 39th over; they added just 76 runs thereafter, as successive batsmen struggled to find their timing on a slowing wicket and against an older ball. The last ten overs of Pakistan's innings yielded only two boundaries, one of which was possible only thanks to a lazy misfield by Evin Lewis at deep backward square.

But if the end of Pakistan's innings appeared anti-climactic, it was still lively compared to the dreary run-chase that followed. Showing an inability to rotate the strike, against pace and spin alike, West Indies' batsmen got stuck and never approached the run rate required to mount a genuine challenge. By the end of the 30th over, West Indies had soaked up 112 dot balls - as many as Pakistan had faced in their entire innings - and were wallowing in the gloom of impending defeat with the score 119 for 5. Their limp effort continued thereafter as the match drifted towards its inevitable conclusion.

On a flat pitch that became slower and more sluggish over time, the best time for batting was at the very start. Having won the toss, Pakistan batted first - for the third time in a row - and made the most of the good conditions early on, racing along to 36 off the first four overs. Opening bowlers Azarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel clocked up speeds in excess of 140 kph - Gabriel hit the late 140s several times - but could not quite find the control to match. Sharjeel Khan was characteristically strong square of the wicket, while Azhar showed nice touch, flicking through midwicket, driving down the ground and playing a commanding cut past backward square.

The introduction of Kraigg Brathwaite and Jason Holder slowed the tempo of Pakistan's innings somewhat, before Sunil Narine and Sulieman Benn helped West Indies regain a greater measure of control, stifling the batsmen with their lack of pace and disciplined lines. Benn was rewarded in his second over when Sharjeel lost patience and hit a well-flighted delivery straight to Joseph at long-on.

Babar Azam and Azhar Ali added 147 for the second wicket © Getty Images

With the spinners continuing to exert the squeeze, Azhar and Azam meandered along, bringing up the team's 100 in the 20th over. But as the partnership got going, the runs began to flow again. Once Azam was set, he found the gaps with increasing ease. Azhar used the sweep and slog-sweep with great effectiveness against Benn. Pakistan's second 100 runs came off just 83 balls.

It was Holder who ended their partnership when Azhar, batting on 101, played a tired heave across the line of a slower ball that clipped the top of off stump. Shoaib Malik was dismissed by Narine next over as West Indies began to pull things back for the second time in the innings, just when Pakistan would have wanted to push on. Azam picked up ones and twos as he approached his century, but, with only three wickets down, Pakistan would have wanted rather more than that.

Azam departed off the last ball of the 46th over, looking to paddle-sweep a yorker-length ball from Kieron Pollard, only to find his leg stump disturbed. Pakistan were 280 for 4 with four overs remaining. They added another 28, but the late charge towards which they had been building never actually materialised.

It didn't need to. West Indies' openers, Lewis and Kraigg Brathwaite, started steadily, putting on 45 off 56 balls before Lewis, on ODI debut, was bowled around his legs by Sohail Khan. That partnership turned out to be the biggest of West Indies' innings, as wickets fell regularly thereafter. A 42-run sixth-wicket partnership between Holder and Denesh Ramdin was the only other stand of substance, but it came after the match was all but lost. Once Imad Wasim broke that stand, the end came quickly, with the last five wickets falling for the addition of just 13 runs.

Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on October 7, 2016, 23:33 GMT

    @mngc1......your thinking needs needs to be examined....Kraig was NOT placed between Bravo and Samuels. ...and the problem is NOT batsmen 1 and,2,. ..The ROOT problem is that the BEST and MOST experienced batsmen are at 3,4,5,and 6.... ONE AFTER THE OTHER and they FAILED to perform since neither of the opening batsmen used up more than 10 overs at any given time.

  • Steve on October 7, 2016, 20:19 GMT

    Siddiq is better than Azam. Look at his stats. Why is he not in squad?

  • mobala1274440 on October 7, 2016, 15:52 GMT

    You should bring good young players in as soon as possible he should play all 3 tests in the first test he should bat at no 4 fawad alam has been wasted I would prefer for Babar not to be wasted as Babar has more talent and is young but I would also play fawad alam in the first test

  • Hassaan on October 7, 2016, 9:01 GMT

    I feel bad W.I my second favourite after Pakistan Phill Simmons should be back along with Curtly & Gibbs as batting coach

  • qasima2506838 on October 7, 2016, 7:00 GMT

    babar is not a test player. Fawad deserve a chance. Wahab is below average bowler next Muhammad Sami of Pak. with no brain

  • Faisal on October 6, 2016, 22:06 GMT

    Currently there is no clear replacement of Sarfraz. Rizwan is not a good keeper or a good batsman and cannot replace Sarfraz in any format. However, Sarfraz himself is an average keeper and should focus on improving his keeping skills. His primary responsibility is to keep. He would not be able to stay in test team or one day side purely as a specialist batsman if a better wicketkeeper emerged.

  • Yaqoot Mir on October 6, 2016, 21:50 GMT

    Pakistan did well but.......Australia and Newzeland are waiting! a real test for Azhar Ali begins now, conditions will be different, pitches bouncier and the bowlers feistier, that is when Babar Azam will be welcomed as a prime find for Pakistan that is where he needs to prove himself, unlike most people I think bringing Umar Akmal in for the bouncy wickets instead of Rizwan is a no brainer, the tour opener should feature both in the Pakistan line up and we will know who makes the cut. Rizwan is great but Umar Akmal has a history of playing well on fast bouncy wickets and Pakistan needs to take advantage, everything else said, sadly, Pakistan should drop Azhar Ali from the ODI squad and hand over the leadership to a much better Sarfraz, no one is more deserving than him, Azhar is not fitting in, despite the hundred, HE IS NOT A ONE DAY PLAYER. Umar Akmal also adds a slog hitter dimension similar to Afridi along with Khalid Latif to Pakistan's ODI line up.

  • zubzba7412933 on October 6, 2016, 19:51 GMT

    Although a great acheivement by Pak on paper... the fuller picture suggests otherwise. WI didnt turn up, something just didnt seem right with their approach/body language... I still cant see Pak challenging the likes of SA, Aus, Eng, NZ on any surface

  • aliimr3558700 on October 6, 2016, 19:37 GMT

    Every thing is fine.. hoping that Haris Sohail should come back in the team.

  • mobala1274440 on October 6, 2016, 18:35 GMT

    replace sarfraz will be stupidity especially with the akmal sugar is not even a part time keeper and karmran akmal is just mediocre in batting and keeping we should be talking about future keepers like Mohammed hassan and saifullah bangash

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