Misbah stays calm to secure series victory
Pakistan 177 for 7 (Misbah 62*, Rampaul 4-32, Bishoo 3-42) beat West Indies 171 (Simmons 51, Ajmal 3-29, Wahab 3-38)
Pakistan overcame a blistering spell from Ravi Rampaul and some late panic against the impressive Devendra Bishoo to secure the series against West Indies with a three-wicket victory in Barbados. The hosts had collapsed feebly once again, but Pakistan were jolted by Rampaul's four strikes and needed the calm head of Misbah-ul-Haq, who remained cool as Bishoo threatened to turn the game again.
It became a more compelling contest than looked likely during another insipid batting display from West Indies. Then Pakistan again appeared to be cruising at 127 for 4 after a composed stand between Misbah and Hammad Azam. However, Bishoo benefited from some poor umpiring and hot-headed strokes to leave them needing 24 when Wahab Riaz joined Misbah, but there were eventually 29 balls to spare as Wahab launched two sixes in four deliveries to hurry a conclusion.
Misbah was roundly criticised for Pakistan's World Cup semi-final exit against India when his poorly-paced innings proved costly, but in this series he has provided vital ballast in an inexperienced order. Without him here, Pakistan would have lost. This was his third unbeaten score to secure a run chase - although he could have been stumped on 20 if part-time keeper Lendl Simmons had gloved the ball - and showed a technique, and composure, that was lacking among some of his team-mates.
Despite the early clatter of wickets the required rate was never an issue for Pakistan, which allowed Misbah to bed in and weather the tough passages while Rampaul was in action. This tour started on the slow, low pitch in St Lucia, where the ball barely got above knee height, but this Kensington Oval surface had far more pace and carry for the quick bowlers who were willing to bend their backs.
Ahmed Shehzad, fresh from his hundred three days ago, tried to pull Rampaul's first delivery and top-edged to a back-tracking Simmons and next delivery Asad Shafiq edged to second slip; suddenly the West Indian fans started to find their voice. Mohammad Hafeez was the next to fall to another top-edged pull, which was well taken by Bishoo, running towards deep square-leg, to leave the visitors 12 for 3.
Misbah's natural game is always to cut out risk and bat time; for Umar Akmal it is the opposite and he took the aggressive route. He struck five boundaries in a 27-ball stay before being undone by a wonderful delivery that bounced and shaved the glove as he tried to sway out of the line.
However, from there West Indies couldn't force another breakthrough as Misbah continued to be a steadying presence. Azam, in his first ODI innings, showed composure and pulled a free hit from Andre Russell for six. He also did well to leave the crease so swiftly after Asoka de Silva failed to spot a huge inside edge when he gave an lbw decision in Bishoo's favour - there is no DRS in this series.
Shahid Afridi's batting has disintegrated and, after two boundaries, it was predictable when he attempted a slog over midwicket. Mohammad Salman then showed his inexperience by not running hard when he thought the ball would reach the boundary and was bowled by a flipper that he shouldn't have been facing. Fortunately for Salman it didn't cost the match.
But while West Indies showed spirit in the field their innings followed a depressingly familiar pattern as they lost 8 for 53 after Simmons and Darren Bravo had formed a solid platform with an 86-run stand. Once they were separated, the innings almost came to a stand-still and soon fell in a heap amid a mixture of prods, pokes and hopeless slogs.
Marlon Samuels, who is struggling to adjust back to international cricket, was again culpable in the loss of momentum as he took 35 balls over his 18, while Kirk Edwards laboured until being run out by a direct hit from backward point. Aside from Simmons, and to a lesser extent Darren Bravo, there is precious little confidence in West Indies' line up and it showed as the innings faded away with Wahab taking two in three balls.
Devon Smith's horror trot against Hafeez's offspin had continued when he was trapped lbw first ball, the third time in a row he had fallen in such fashion. After reaching fifty from 61 balls Simmons had time to double his score, but drove a fraction too early and offered a low chance to Saeed Ajmal who took it well in his follow through.
The onus was on Darren Bravo not to follow a similar path of giving away a useful innings, however, having struggled to increase the tempo, he then played across a full ball from Hafeez as the stall kicked in. Any hopes of pushing past 200 vanished in the space of three balls from Wahab as he had both Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo caught at long on. A little bit of sensible batting and this could have been West Indies' match.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo