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December 16, 2006
Pakistan rode on a fluent 92 by Mohammad Hafeez and his breezy 87-run opening stand with Kamran Akmal to cruise to an emphatic seven-wicket win at Karachi and seal the series 3-1. On a flat batting track, West Indies only managed 238 despite a battling 101 from Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and they were made to pay for the lack of runs on the board, as Pakistan sailed home with 19 deliveries to spare.
West Indies were coming off a convincing win themselves at Multan, but they carried none of that momentum into this match as Pakistan - bolstered by the return of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf - dominated right from the start. Chanderpaul managed his fourth ODI century - and his first against Pakistan - but his knock consumed 142 deliveries, and the West Indian innings had little urgency till Brian Lara came to the crease and stroked a crisp 44, in the process becoming only the fifth batsman to get to 10,000 ODI runs.
Pakistan's bowlers, though, maintained a stranglehold on the scoring rate for most of the innings. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, especially, was outstanding, nailing Chris Gayle right at the start - the fourth time Gayle fell to him in the series - and then returned with a swinging yorker at the end to dismiss Lara. He finished with well-deserved figures of 4 for 43, while Abdur Rehman, the promising left-arm spinner, had another impressive day, conceding just 39 from his ten overs for two wickets, including a peach to draw out and stump Marlon Samuels, West Indies' hero at Multan.
On a pitch which offered little pace, bounce or seam movement, the West Indian attack was woefully inadequate to curb the free-stroking Pakistan batsmen. Akmal's 59-ball 56 offered the early impetus, as he creamed the short balls to the square boundaries and even struck a high full-toss from Daren Powell over square leg for six. Hafeez was relatively quiet, but he had his moments too - a straight six off a good-length ball from Powell was particularly spectacular.
Reeling under the early onslaught, Lara delayed the third Powerplay till after Akmal fell, but that hardly helped matter, as Yasir Hameed joined the fun with a fluent 41. Hafeez, meanwhile, carried on in typically unhurried fashion, nurdling the singles and knocking off the odd boundary. Lara tried both pace and spin, but apart from Corey Collymore, none of them even managed to staunch the run-flow.
Hameed fell to his own impetuosity when easy runs were there for the taking, but that only spurred Shoaib Malik to end things fast as he rushed to 34 from 36 balls. Hafeez lofted Gayle for a magnificent six to get into the 90s, but soon after fell to one from Dave Mohammed which kept low and beat his attempted pull. By then, though, the result was a foregone conclusion.
If Pakistan's effort with the bat was impressive, then their bowling display was even better on a pitch which offered little assistance to bowlers. Almost all bowlers kept a tight control over line and length, bowled on one side of the wicket, and gave few scoring opportunities.
The dominance started early, when Naved nailed Gayle with one that straightened after pitching on middle, trapping him plumb in front. Lendl Simmons started to get into his stride before chopping Mohammad Sami back onto his stumps, and when Samuels fell to a peach of a delivery from Rehman - it drifted in, then spun away, completely beating the batsman - West Indies were struggling at 104 for 4 in the 27th.
On a pitch where 250 seemed to be the par score, West Indies were clearly behind the eight-ball, but Lara and Chanderpaul went about rectifying that. Lara had only managed 27 in his three previous innings in the series, but here he was at his purposeful best. After a slow start, where the intent was to knock the ball around for singles, Lara soon started using his feet against the spinners. Chanderpaul continued to turn the strike over, and the runs soon started coming at more than five an over. Lara's footwork was at his best against Mohammad Hafeez, whom he tonked over cover for four, and Rehman. Naved, though, ensured that the innings remained only an entertaining cameo, as he slipped in an inswinger which crashed into the stumps off the pads.
With Lara back in the hutch, the onus was on Chanderpaul to keep it going, but instead Pakistan's bowlers seized on the opportunity to exert pressure. Chanderpaul himself was struggling with a leg injury which forced him to opt for a runner, and could only take the singles when boundaries were needed. With Naved bowling his swinging yorkers with outstanding accuracy, West Indies only managed 38 in the last six overs, and in the end the total they managed posed few problems for Pakistan.
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