West Indies lose as Pakistan seal series
(See scoreboard at end of report)
Before this match, Pakistan had won 24 out of 27 T20Is defending 150-plus. On Saturday, they posted 160, which was 22 more than the average first-innings score at this venue. That meant West Indies had to achieve the highest successful chase to take the series into a decider. On paper, it was advantage Pakistan, but cricket is played out on the field, sometimes on greasy ones because of heavy dew that negates any advantage teams batting first conjure.
Did it affect them? It didn’t look like, as yet another timid batting show that lacked application and self-belief resulted in West Indies falling 17 short of the target. It meant Sarfraz Ahmed extended his unbeaten run as T20I captain to three matches.
On these outfields, it isn’t unusual to see teams trying to overachieve while batting first in their quest to negate the dew factor. Perhaps the experience of having played their home matches here since 2009 helped Pakistan set a clear mandate. If Shoaib Malik provided the fire through swift foot work and muscular hits in his 28-ball 37, top-scorer Sarfaz proved to be the ice in a 69-run stand off just 46 balls to drive the innings.
West Indies didn’t help their cause with ordinary fielding – chances were dropped and extra runs conceded through misfields – to further give Pakistan breathing space; 60 were scored off the last six overs as they finished with 160 for 4.
Sarfaz then went to his go-to new ball bowlers, and they didn’t disappoint. Sohail Tanvir stamped his class with an opening burst of 3-0-11-2, in which he troubled the batsmen with late away movement to all but seal the deal even before the halfway mark of the chase.
If ugly hoicks mirrored West Indies’ effort on Friday, across-the-line swipes and ill-advised footwork resulted in their downfall here. Johnson Charles holed out to long-on, Evin Lewis nicked to the slips and Marlon Samuels was done in by late movement, partly because he was feeling for the ball from the crease. At 20 for 3 in six overs, the chase was in tatters.
West Indies’ batsmen also kept playing for turn when there was none. Dot balls added to the pressure – 21 of them in the first six overs alone – as the required rate spiralled over ten runs to the over. When Dwayne Bravo, fresh off a half-century on Friday, was bowled playing all around an in-drifter from Mohammad Nawaz, the left-arm spinner, West Indies were tottering at 45 for 4 in 10 overs.
From there on, it was largely a question of damage limitation. Not even Sunil Narine’s entertaining cameo, 30 off 17 balls, a majority of which came against the inexperienced Hasan Ali, came as a soothing balm to a side that was brutally exposed by the trying conditions.
The start to the clash wasn’t exhilarating like in the first T20I. What was constant, though, was a string of dots forcing the openers to up the pace. For the second time in as many matches, Sharjeel Khan was bowled by Samuel Badree, in the third over, to give West Indies an ideal start.
Khalid Latif and Babar Azam rebuilt through a mix of ones and twos, with the odd boundary laced in between. Latif, made to look ungainly at times, was reprieved on 26 by Nicholas Pooran at long leg. While he managed to add just 14 more, his second successive fifty-plus stand with Azam helped set up a foundation from which Pakistan could tee off in the end-overs.
Azam threw it away after bedding in by dragging a pull to wide long-on, while Latif’s cramping legs and tiring body that drained out his reserve energy resulted in him being run-out in the 12th over.
There was a ray of hope for West Indies, but that was quickly extinguished. Malik was quick on his feet to take second runs that seemed far from the realms of possibility, while Sarfraz, far from being intimidating, managed to pinch cheeky runs through his trademark whips and glides to give Pakistan a formidable total.
That Pakistan consumed just 10 dots in the last eight overs exhibited their control to a certain degree. In the end, the good deeds with the bat meant it was 11th time in 13 T20Is that a side batting first had successfully defended a 150-plus total at this venue. (ESPNCricinfo)
Cover photo caption: Sohail Tanvir rocked West Indies in his opening burst