Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped West Indies cruise to victory by seven wickets and pull one game back in this series after the bowlers had done their bit in the first half, restricting Pakistan to only 209. There was little a weakened Pakistan team could do to halt West Indies' march to victory and the scoreline is now 2-1 in Pakistan's favour with one game to play.
Samuels has given glimpse of his destructive ability in the past - especially in one magnificent century against India in Vijayawada that took West Indies to a 4-3 series win. On that day he was at his attacking best; today he had to fight hard to begin with, but once he had mastered the early movement, played with aggression and control to score his second ODI century and take his team to victory.
When the innings began Pakistan were naturally pumped up, having ended on 209 after being 47 for 4. And they kept the momentum going when Rana Naved-ul-Hasan bowled a peach of an inswinger to the left-handed Chris Gayle who played an ambitious heave only to lose his off stump. Lendl Simmons, who began his ODI career with a duck picked up another one, this time a first-baller, as he shuffled across his stumps and fell over to a delivery that pitched in line and would have crashed into middle and leg stump had pad not been in the way (11 for 2).
Samuels negotiated the hat-trick ball easily enough, and with the experienced Chanderpaul for company, began to dig his heels in. Mohammad Sami, in his return match, showed that little had changes in his approach, giving the batsmen two loose balls for every four good ones. He was guilty of spraying the ball around as well, and the pressure lifted off the shoulders of the batsmen.
Chanderpaul didn't so much score runs as collect them. With a dab here and a nurdle there he coaxed the ball into the gaps and before Pakistan could realise he'd entered the 20s. There was no panic whatsoever in his batting, two wickets in as many balls notwithstanding.
Samuels played and missed more than once against Naved-ul-Hasan, who shaped the ball away consistently from the right-handed batsmen. But he settled down once the bowling changed and really moved it up a gear when the part-time spinners came on. Shahid Afridi's legspin was dismissed with content, while the medium-pace of Rao Iftikhar Anjum disappeared to all parts. Samuels hit through the line beautifully, and the best of all hits was a pull shot off Rao that sailed high, wide and handsome over midwicket for six.
From then on, the partnership for the third wicket burgeoned to 141, virtually settling the game in West Indies's favour before Chanderpaul picked one off his hips and found fine-leg. It mattered little, though, as Samuels, in the company of Brian Lara, skipped past the finish line. Lara, in his brief stay, showed his class with a superb drive over cover for six. Samuels only got more confident, thumping the ball merrily along to reach an even 100.
If the batting from West Indies was high quality, Pakistan's was anything but in the first half of the day. Daren Powell, playing in his first match of the series, did the early damage, removing the dangerous Shahid Afridi with a ball that came in with the angle and straightened after pitching to peg back the off stump. Imran Farhat, who has shown signs of promise but often given it away with an expansive shot, was suckered into playing a big cut against a ball that was short and a wide. Unfortunately for him Gayle, at gully, stretched to his full height and plucked the catch out of the air.
Mohammad Hafeez, who perhaps had one eye on the scoreboard when he came out to bat, played a defensive prod at an outswinger and was just inside the line of the ball. The edge was taken easily by Gayle at slip; 45 for 3 was bad, but it was about to get worse. Shoaib Malik played completely down the wrong line to Dwayne Smith, and the ball came in to trap him plumb in front of the stumps. At 47 for 4, with not much to come in terms of batting, Pakistan looked like they were heading for disaster.
Fortunately for Pakistan Yasir Hameed, who last played an ODI against England almost a year ago, buckled down and sealed his end up. He put away his array of strokes, and concentrated on taking the ones and twos. Faisal Iqbal, perfectly relaxed at the crease, chipped in with 30. But it was Hameed, who moved on to his half-century, off 92 balls - uncannily similar to his last ODI innings where he had top-scored with a patient 57 - who gave the innings backbone.
Today he made 71, before he fell trying to give the innings some impetus when he holed out to midwicket off Dave Mohammed. Abdul Razzaq, captaining Pakistan for the first time, clouted a few towards the end to pick up 33, but he could only push the score on to 209, and that proved to be a walk in the park for West Indies.