Afridi melts West Indies' resistance
Pakistan 258 for 8 (Shoaib 51, Inzamam 51) beat West Indies 218 (Afridi 4-40) by 40 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan condemned West Indies to their seventh straight one-day defeat of the season, and their 11th in 12 completed matches since their victory in the final of the Champions Trophy, as Shahid Afridi ripped his legspinners through a bamboozled tail for figures of 4 for 40. His efforts came on the back of a solid if unspectacular Pakistani batting performance, and ensured that West Indies will have nothing but pride to play for in tomorrow's third and final match.
After winning the toss and batting first, Pakistan struggled to dominate a spirited West Indian bowling attack, but once each of their top eight had reached double figures, they were able to muster a competitive total of 258 for 8. The main men of the innings were Shoaib Malik and Inzamam-ul-Haq, who made a brace of 51s, and Younis Khan, who seemed set to complete a half-century of his own until he was brilliantly caught for 48 in the final over of the innings, by a one-handed Chris Gayle, diving to his left at backward point.
Breathtaking though Gayle's effort was, it had come some 220 runs too late for West Indies. His earlier missed opportunity off Daren Powell at first slip had let a nervous Shoaib Malik off the hook before he had settled, and prevented West Indies from taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Without ever looking on top form, Shoaib scratched and scraped to rebuild the innings after the early loss of both openers, Shahid Afridi and Salman Butt.
Yousuf Youhana brought up Pakistan's fifty with a sweetly timed drive through the covers. But before he could really get stuck in, he was adjudged caught-behind for 21 off Wavell Hinds. In his place, however, came the solid reassurance of Inzamam, who punished Hinds with two dismissive strokes off consecutive deliveries - a cut and a pull - as Pakistan reached the 30-over mark well-placed on 134 for 3.
Inzamam was briefly forced to retire hurt after taking an eye-watering blow in the box from a Gayle full-toss, but in his place came the urgent presence of Adbul Razzaq, who clubbed a quick 20 off 16 balls before losing his off stump to a wild swing at Corey Collymore. Dwayne Bravo, whose bowling had been expensive all day, was then cracked for three fours in the penultimate over as Pakistan finished their innings with a flourish.
Having failed to chase 192 in the first game, the omens were not good as West Indies began their reply, and Xavier Marshall duly came and went with another whimper, caught in the gully for 7 after looking horribly out of his depth for the second match running. But where there's Chris Gayle, no one-day chase can be entirely written off, and when he launched Shabbir Ahmed over long-off for a massive six, West Indies' hopes soared.
But three balls later, they came crashing once again, as Shabbir clipped the top of Gayle's off stump with a spectacular offcutter. He was gone for 43 from 45 balls, and when Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were both run out in quick succession, West Indies had slumped to 114 for 4.
Despite being given a charmed life by umpire Billy Doctrove, who turned down a succession of lbw appeals from Razzaq and Afridi, Runako Morton began to grow in stature, and brought up his maiden one-day half-century with a one-bounce pull over midwicket off Shoaib. But, in the very next over, he was bamboozled by Afridi's slower ball, and bowled all ends up as he aimed an expansive heave into the Caribbean Sea.
Bravo then completed a miserable match with a fourth-ball duck, as Doctrove finally upheld an lbw appeal, and Afridi made it three wickets in nine balls when Hinds misread a googly and was bowled round his legs for 22. Courtney Browne attempted to be defiant by slamming Shoaib for six, before Afridi picked up his fourth, bowling Ian Bradshaw as he too went for the big one.
That was emphatically that. Browne slapped another six to reduce the margin of defeat, but the final two wickets fell in the space of five balls, as Iftikhar Anjum and Naved-ul-Hasan returned to wrap up the match with 10 balls to spare. It was, incidentally, a rare series victory in the Caribbean for Pakistan, but few triumphs can have felt so flat.
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo