West Indies v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Providence April 9, 2017

Babar and Hasan square the series for Pakistan

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Pakistan 282 for 5 (Babar 125*, Imad 43*) beat West Indies 208 (Holder 68, Hasan 5-38) by 74 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A career-best unbeaten 125 by Babar Azam, followed by a clinical bowling performance, ensured Pakistan eased to a 74-run win to level the three-match series. Set 283 to win, West Indies wilted early despite beginning the chase with attacking intent. That purposefulness came at the cost of early wickets, with both openers back in the pavilion by the fifth over.

In a bizarre departure from the approach that had been so successful for the home side in the first game, West Indies continued to press on rather than ensure they had enough wickets in hand for the closing stages. Inevitably, they kept losing wickets playing shots that weren't so much attacking as they were rash, and before you knew it, they had slipped to 56 for 5, and the game was effectively over as a contest.

After that, it was left to Pakistan's spinners to asphyxiate what remained of the West Indies' batting line-up. Jason Holder and Ashley Nurse gave the crowd - a large, expectant turnout in the wake of the first game's heroics - some light entertainment with a breezy 58-run partnership, but even as the clouds gathered in the distance, lightning was never going to strike twice, as Hasan Ali finished with 5 for 38.

Even as the game drifted off to its inevitable conclusion, captain Holder displayed his competitive spirit with a fighting half-century, his combination of sweet timing and incredible power making batting look a lot easier than it had seemed when those higher up the order had been in the middle. He gave Shadab Khan the respect he has indisputably earned with his performances over the last fortnight, but was at times disdainful of Pakistan's storied pace bowling attack, never more so than when he dispatched Mohammad Amir for 16 in an over, smashing one six and two fours.

Hasan - who bowled only five overs in the first game - was the pick of Pakistan's pace trio, extracting nippy movement off a good length that particularly ruffled the right-handers. He was the one who ripped the heart out of the West Indies top-order, dismissing Shai Hope and Kieran Powell in quick succession; the one who ended Nurse's spirited resistance, and the one who killed off the last vestige of West Indian hope when he got rid of Alzarri Joseph to end a 52-run ninth-wicket partnership. Fittingly, he was the one who accounted for Holder to seal the win, and a fully deserved five-wicket haul.

Pakistan had earlier posted 282 despite looking horribly unconvincing with the bat for much of the first innings, a late surge ensuring they reached a total they would have gladly accepted just seven overs earlier, thanks largely to Babar. Batting again at No.3 after a head-scratching demotion last game, Babar formed the spine of the innings as batsmen around him struggled to build on starts. He held the innings together when it threatened to disintegrate, and provided the late fireworks when it looked like it might stagnate. A two-paced surface made batting challenging, as did a much-improved bowling performance from the hosts.

Babar Azam carves the ball away during his century © AFP

This total had seemed well out of Pakistan's reach until the last seven overs - in which 84 runs were scored. It was telling that West Indies' worst spell of bowling came about just as Babar and Imad Wasim finally began to swing freely, to the extent that the crucial last over of the innings was left to medium pacer Jonathan Carter - no one's first choice as a death bowler, or any bowler for that matter. Five of Pakistan's six sixes came off the last three overs - two off the hapless Carter in a 50th over that cost 19.

After an uncharacteristically brisk opening Powerplay during the first ODI, Pakistan quickly reverted to type today, their approach circumspect and their progress sedate. They continued their somewhat retrograde approach in the middle overs, the run rate hovering around 4.50 and, although their failure to accelerate could partly be attributed to the bowlers, it wasn't as if Babar and Mohammad Hafeez broke their backs trying either. Hafeez, who found himself in the slightly unfortunate position of gaining more detractors than supporters after an 88-ball 92 during the first game, can certainly expect more criticism his way today after being stumped down the leg-side for a laboured 32 off 50 deliveries.

Pakistan's innings never seemed to move out of the third gear it had begun in, and just when an almost run-a-ball partnership between Babar and Sarfraz looked like getting them ready for the final push, the captain's leading edge found mid-on. It was after that that Imad and Babar combined, and even they took a while before the innings took off, just as it felt the collective patience of Pakistan's fans worldwide was beginning to creak. The momentum from those late overs continued into the second innings, and Sarfraz certainly wouldn't mind it continuing for two more come the decisive game on Tuesday.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MagicM on April 11, 2017, 15:22 GMT

    Is there a plan to destroy West Indies cricket?Same board getting elected and always in some fight with players.Selectors continuously picking and rotating same set of players who can't win. What is going on

  • cricfan6333822916 on April 11, 2017, 7:43 GMT

    there must be something that why hafeez is still in the team and not been kick out from the team,hafeez just build pressure on his partner ,,how,, doesnt run hard between the wicket as sometime make confuision or dismisal,,so guys there is something behind of hafeez that he is steel in the team,and he is also full of questions mark

  •   cricinfoFreak on April 11, 2017, 6:56 GMT

    Guys be cool with Amir because he is coming after 5 years directly in the setup and that also a spear head of bowling attack, whenever he is bowling with Junaid he is a complete different bowler

    Sarfaraz is new to captaincy so give him some time and then you will see another MSD type of Captain

    In batting demote Hafeez to #6 and bring Sarfaraz to #4 because he will play alot of singles and doubles which will remove pressure from Babar

    Give some time to Imad , I believe he can become Yuvraj Singh of Pakistan because he has the ability, in his short career he has 3 fifties with S/R almost 100

  • starsgap1986 on April 11, 2017, 4:41 GMT

    What's continuing for two more to come mean?

  • Ahsen Khan on April 11, 2017, 2:31 GMT

    @ami perth fawwad is as good player as babar? how?

  • Waqas.Norway on April 10, 2017, 20:30 GMT

    Series 1 -1 :) But this performance will not be enough to win matches against top sides nor this will give any trophies or titles. Pakistan need to get rid of inconsistent failure batsmen like Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal & Mohammad Hafeez. Fast bowling has become a joke with Wahab Riaz. He should go and not sure Mohammad Amir is the same bowler he was before. He takes his place for granted in the team now and i do not see any passion in him. Sarfraz Ahmed is good choice as a captain but his body language easily becomes negative and he starts to treat other players like they are naughty children. He needs to find balance otherwise captaincy will be for very short period. Power hitters are required for last 10 overs. Where is Anwar Ali? He could have been groomed to do hitting required at the end. It's time to get rid of many current players to give younger players proper chance. That's the only way to go ahead and to compete with top ODI sides. otherwise it will be same old story....

  • aarifboy on April 10, 2017, 19:18 GMT

    Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are better option than Kamran Akmal and Ahmad Shehzad for ODIs.

  • ami_perth on April 10, 2017, 18:33 GMT

    Everyone is praising Babar Azam, certainly why not?..but we have missed FAWAD ALAM who was equally good enough batsman like Babar Azam but unfortunately he did not get proper chances owing to liking and disliking of captains and team management if he gets same chances like Hafeez...Shehzad and Umar Akmal have got pakistan should have ranked in top 5 instead of current position he was proven player and during his short spane of career in odi he had shown match winning perforamces against team like India..Sri Lanka..Bangladesh...South Africa and England with the help of good partnerships with players like..Razzaq..Afridi..

  • Umar_Bhai on April 10, 2017, 17:03 GMT

    Pakistan should play quality team like Afghanistan or Zimbabwe to improve their players performance.

  • mlscricfan on April 10, 2017, 16:41 GMT

    RK_KS Yea true.

    Just, wanted to let them know how it feels when some one else degrades our players 100's & wins. Cheers.

    Best of luck for final ODI vs WI & Rankings !

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