West Indies v Pakistan, 1st T20, St Vincent July 27, 2013

Babar takes Pakistan home off last ball

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Pakistan 158 for 8 (Amin 47, Afridi 46) beat West Indies 152 for 7 (Pollard 49*, Babar 3-23, Hafeez 2-4) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

You get a chance to play international cricket at 34, becoming the second-oldest debutant for your country. You are hit for six second ball. What do you do? You dismiss three key batsmen for just 23 runs. You are then called on to finish the game. With the bat. Understandably, you are tied down. But with six needed off six, you loft over extra cover for four. You think you have more than pulled your weight as a debutant. You have, but it is not over yet. It comes down to the last ball. One run needed. Everyone is in the circle. No sweat. You go big over mid-off, so big that you clear the rope. Zulfiqar Babar, welcome to international cricket.

It should not have come down to the last ball the way Shahid Afridi sensibly steered the chase from 86 for 5. After that became 116 for 6, he did it with the tail for company. He made 46 off 27, but barring the 27th delivery, he hardly hit a desperate, reckless stroke. With eight needed off 11 though, he tried to seal it with a straight six, and mishit to long-on.

West Indies sensed a chance. Babar played out a few dots. Despite that early boundary in the last over, Saeed Ajmal was run out off the fifth with the scores tied, before Babar roared one final time.

The way they bowled and fielded, West Indies were lucky to have taken it down to the last ball. Shannon Gabriel took three wickets, but he crumbled under pressure each time he was called upon to deliver. Umar Amin, who played a blinder on T20 debut, took three fours off Gabriel's first over, with a flick and two pulls.

Amin then took Samuel Badree apart on a turning pitch. Never giving the ball a chance to spin, he repeatedly stepped out to loft Badree down the ground. When the bowler dropped it short, Amin pulled. When he overpitched, Amin drove. Even as Amin was toying with West Indies, the hosts were striking at the other end.

The Pakistan top order fell to miscalculated hits, but Amin's brilliance meant the asking-rate was always under control. That still didn't stop Amin from walking out to Samuels and getting stumped to make it 86 for 5.

Afridi took over now, striking Samuels first ball for six over long-off and drilling the third to the extra cover rope. Thereafter, he settled down into cruise mode, rotating the strike, picking the odd boundary and also lofting Sunil Narine to become the first man to reach 400 international sixes. He did everything right except the stroke on the ball he got out to, but then, it was to be the debutant's day in the end.

Babar, and the other Pakistan spinners, had shocked West Indies initially on the turner but the hosts recovered and then took apart the fast bowlers to post a challenging total. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard came together at 42 for 4 and put on 56 before Darren Sammy cracked 30 off 14. Pakistan's slow bowlers did their job, taking 5 for 74 in 14 overs but the fast bowlers, missing the yorkers too often, disappeared for 1 for 73 in six. Mohammad Hafeez, who opened the bowling and dismissed the openers, gave himself just two overs.

Babar squared up and bowled Lendl Simmons with his fourth delivery and in his next over, found himself in the way of a powerful hit from Samuels, but managed to hold on. Samuels had been cutting Mohammad Irfan for boundaries amid all the wickets.

Bravo and Pollard, although not always in control, rotated the strike, a refreshing thing coming from a West Indies pair. Bravo was quick to hit with the turn through the off side, and Pollard made sure he put away the rare half-volleys for boundaries. Sammy went after the fast bowlers as he and Pollard looted 53 in four overs. As Sammy said after the game, 152 should have been defended on that pitch, but Babar was to have the perfect debut.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • t20cric on July 28, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    What a dream debut for Zulfiqar, I think he should have been the man of the match. Mohammad Hafeez should have bowled all 4 overs when he gave away just 4 runs from 2 overs and picked up 2 wickets as well. If hafeez bowled all his overs WI might have been 130-145 all out. But Sammy made up for that by under bowling himself as well. A good sensible knock by Afridi and Amin played a great innings to. The top three once again got out to unnecessary shots. Amazing fielding by Pollard to take those catches. Gabriel was really gifted wickets cuz his bowling was bad but the fielders held on to catches. The next t20 will be played at the same ground so Hafeez should use all 16 overs of spin and make sure Irfan and Junaid dont bowl to short. For the next t20 I think both teams will want to keep the same players

  • dummy4fb on July 28, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Many of my comments r never published. Well I break the rules I suppose. But it is not easy to sugar coat WI consistently poor performances. In Guyana the WI team gets its poorest support,and with no Guyanese in the team it is worse. WI success means a lot to me, as a Guyanese. And by the way talent and a good cricketing brain is the solution to WI woes. I hope u pick my drift.

  • dummy4fb on July 28, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    i belive let Afridi play on the same spot he is playing ,, he is better performing at no 8 .. once he get settle then can change his batting order ,, otherwise this is perfect place for him to bat ,, even though if it is powerplay or no powerplay if he hit in both case either it will go out of the ground or straight to the fielder

  • bouncer709 on July 28, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    Hafeez is very clever guy, he always do bowling when batsman are not settled, If he starts to complete his overs quota, His bowling will be exposed. He is destroying career of Hamad Azam by putting him in the middler order and not giving him any over. Jamshed should be dropped immediately, he is not performing and his fielding is worse. I think Afridi went for last hit because he did not want to give strike to Zulfiqar babar who had scored 2 runs on 9 balls. I wonder on one side people talk Afrdi 33 is now old, but PCB give chances to 35 year old guy, PCB very pathetic, they discarded best spinner in the world "Saqlain Mushtaq" when he was 27 and on peak of his game. They took Abdul Rehman for ODI series, and as usual they did not give him chance, Now zulfiqar babar, but I am sure they will drop him for next series despite of his good debut. They did same thing with Mansoor Amjad, he played one match, only did one over, and got 3 wkts. But he was never given chance again.

  • Reuelsean on July 28, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Well nobody can blame Dwayne Bravo for this loss, and it is clear as day for all to see now, how much of a poor captain Darren Sammy really is. Not Blaming Gabriel for this loss because Darren Sammy should not have given him anymore overs after his first two, he was clearly struggling. Well played Polly, good to see you back in the runs. Ha ha ha ha to all those who claim that Darren Sammy is a good captain. Would like to see Barnwell playing in the next Match.

  • android_user on July 28, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    afridi should comeback as an opener& todays squad afridi ahmad hafij umaramin umarakmal nasir hammad tanvir wahab babar ajmal

  • android_user on July 28, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    i think Afridi should comeback as an opener .why not a chance for an opening batsman he is more better than the others

  • android_user on July 28, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    hammad azam is one of the best batsmen in pak team he is one of the good finishers, he will prove it in future. he just need some confidence. ppl who are asking for his axeing seriously don't understand cricket. this guy is a future captain material.

  • android_user on July 28, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Boom Boom Afridi done it again for Pakistan and well done by both Debutant Babar and Amin.Pakistan have to win the next game and win the both series t20 and odi.

  • dummy4fb on July 28, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    "IT was a match where wager was on for poor captaincy....Sammy outcasted Hafiz by a fair margin though...The score was not bad at all but Sammy's poor captaincy cost this for Windies...!".