SHARJAH - Pakistan recovered from a disastrous start of three for 15, to overhaul a modest West Indies target of 191 with four wickets and almost four overs to spare to maintain their winning streak here in the first of the three one-dayers. It indeed was the depth in their batting which saved the day for the Pakistanis, as Afridi, Youhana, Latif and Razzaq all played little cameos to guide Pakistan towards victory.
As three wickets went down quickly, it seemed that Pakistan would once again make a mess of the run chase. The West Indies must have sniffed a chance, but everyone lower down the order made a contribution to dash their hopes, and Razzaq's (unconquered 46, 41 balls, 5 fours, 1 six) lusty hitting at the fag end sealed the issue, making it look comfortable in the bargain.
For his splendid all-round effort, Razzaq was named Man of the Match.
Though Pakistan survived the scare to win the match, lots of credit must be given the West Indies; they at least made a fist of it - something the Windies seemed singularly incapable of in recent encounters.
After being shot out for 190, the Caribbeans were off to a dream start as Naved Latif slashed at Merv Dillon in the opening over, Ridley Jacobs pouching the snick. Next over, Younis Khan played one to mid-off and scampered for a quick single and we saw Corey Collymore's beating him in photo finish. Inzamam ul Haq, out of sorts and out of form, pottered around for 20 deliveries for his one run before Cameron Cuffy had him caught by Darren Ganga at mid-wicket.
Afridi, who had lofted Cuffy over extra cover in the second over, with emphasis now on staying at the wicket, curbed his aggressive instincts to steady the ship in association with Yousuf Youhana. Right when it seemed that Pakistan was out of the woods and the stand between the two had flourished to 47, Afridi, who was by now shedding his inhibitions, lofted Darrel Brown down to Collymore for a fine running catch at the square leg fence.
Youhana by now had played himself in and with Rashid Latif started playing some exquisite strokes, especially off his legs and the most attractive stand of the innings ensued. The two kept stroking their way, not in the main through boundaries but singles, twos and threes. The 100 was posted in the 30th over and the runs were now coming in a steady stream. Again when the Pakistan camp was breathing easy, Hooper snapped up Youhana, caught and bowled. Another stand of 40-plus had failed to progress further.
Latif and Razzaq kept the momentum going, and though Rashid fell, caught at the square leg fence, after a very well made 47 (58 balls, 4 fours), Razzaq stood there, solid as a rock, sending Dillon's first delivery of the 47th over crashing into the mid-wicket fence for victory. He was also judged the man of the match for his 2 wickets and an unbeaten 46.
Earlier, on a superb batting wicket, winning the toss and electing to bat first, after a rather bright start, the West Indies lost the plot completely, to end up with a wholly insufficient 190 with nine deliveries of the regulation 50 overs remaining unutilised.
With Chris Gayle taking the attack to the Pakistan bowlers in a stroke-filled innings of 50, they seemed destined to greater things. But that was not to be, and Pakistan managed to extend their winning streak to 10 successive games in overs-limited cricket.
Making a comeback, Akram started off with a wide, and was despatched to the point boundary next ball by Darren Ganga. A couple of overs later, Waqar was treated similarly by Ganga, and the West Indies innings seemed off to a confident and brisk start. It was at this point that Ganga, playing from way inside the crease trod onto his stumps to give Waqar and Pakistan the first wicket. Wavell Hinds replaced him, and straightaway flicked Akram to the fine leg boundary for four. Hinds was dropped by Inzamam off Akram, an easy one in the slips, and though he hit the next ball for four to the square leg fence, he was not to benefit from this lapse. With the 50 of the innings already on the board, Shoaib Akhtar was brought on first change, and he immediately obliged his skipper with a wicket, Hinds caught at point by Younis Khan. Rated as the best all-round fielder of the team by coach Mudassar Nazar, Younis held onto the ball that was streaking to the boundary in a second attempt after it had bounced out.
By now Gayle was in his element, and with skipper Hooper watching him from the other end, he unleashed a dazzling array of strokes, predominantly in front of the wicket and mostly on the off side. He was especially severe on a tiring Akram, hitting him for three boundaries in his seventh over - one gloriously on-driven for four, next audaciously put away in extra cover region, nearly taking Afridi's head along with it, and yet another delivery off-driven to the boundary. Razzaq was given a taste of the same medicine, driven for fours to long-on and extra cover in his first over, and off-driven for four in the next.
But Razzaq had his man in his third over, though not before Gayle reached his 50 (52 balls, 10 fours). It was a casual, perhaps over-confident shot, and to Gayle's utter dismay it rattled the stumps - perishing right when he seemed to be most threatening. One soft dismissal followed another, as Chanderpaul holed out first ball to Afridi at mid-wicket.
This double blow literally took the wind out of the Caribbeans' sails, and to make an already bad situation worse, Ryan Hinds ran himself out, not grounding his bat after he was sent back by Hooper from midway down the pitch as Akram and Rashid Latif combined to ensure his demise.
Happily-placed at 95 for 2 in 18 overs, the Windies were reduced to 117 for five in 25. What followed was drab, lacklustre cricket, with Hooper and Jacobs intent on not losing another wicket, and the Pakistan attack choking them for scoring opportunities. Such was the sway of Pakistan bowling in this part of the innings that there were absolutely no boundaries; while 16 fours were struck in the first 17 overs, there were none between 22 and 45.
A well-set Hooper (45, 81 balls, 3 fours) was trapped leg before by Shahid Afridi in his first over of the second spell. His departure, in the 40th over, well and truly put paid to West Indies' hopes of putting up a competitive total. Jacobs' (25, 57 balls) following him three overs later, bowled behind his legs while he clumsily essayed a sweep, didn't help matters at all. There was no flurry from the tail, though Brown clouted Saqlain for a six over mid-wicket, but he was gone two balls later - reverse sweeping into the hands of a highly dependable Younis Khan at point. A leaping Inzamam pulled off a stunner at mid-wicket off Akram to send back Dillon, and Cuffy was run-out by Yousuf Youhana to bring the curtain down on a rather unsatisfactory display by the Caribbeans.
West Indies vs Pakistan
Pakistan tour of United Arab Emirates
Sharjah Cricket Stadium