Mohammed’s masterpiece stuns Pakistan in Providence run-fest
By Avenash Ramzan at Providence
Many opted to stay away, maybe because it was a working day. They’re now probably pondering that coaxing their superior for some time off to attend the first ODI between West Indies and Pakistan might not have been such a bad idea.
All because one man chose the day with arguably the least attendance at an international cricket match at Providence to construct a masterpiece that would stay on the tongues and in the minds of those who witnessed it live for decades to come.
Jason Mohammed has been in tremendous form since the last Hero Caribbean Premier League, and judging from his calculated onslaught on a stunned Pakistan side, his purple patch is far from over.
West Indies, chasing what appeared to be a steep 309 after Pakistan piled up 308-5 upon being afforded the invitation to bat first on a newly re-laid track, seemed out of it at 158-4 in the 34th over with the asking rate slowly creeping into double-digits.
But it was a scenario that seemed to least bother Mohammed; the diminutive Trinidad and Tobago right-hander pulverised the Pakistani attack with an innings that can more aptly be described as a highlights package.
Eleven fours and three sixes, all of them shots of conviction and authority, produced contrasting emotions; while the crowd suddenly forgot about all the troubles facing West Indies cricket, Sarfraz Ahmed and his men were confounded by the tragedy that had befallen them.
Mohammed’s 50 off 31 balls was the fastest by a West Indian against Pakistan in ODIs, and the only blunder (if you’re a pessimist) in his unbeaten 91 off 58 balls was that he didn’t convert it to a maiden hundred. It’s a milestone that seemed all for the taking with 50 required off 33 deliveries when Jason Holder was dismissed. Mohammed was on 79 at the time.
Probably inspired by Mohammed’s confidence, poise and aggression, Ashley Nurse produced a cameo that further decimated Pakistan, as Mohammed was suddenly forced to play second fiddle.
Nurse’s 34 off 15 balls included five fours and six, and his strike rate of 226 floored the tourists after Mohammed took charge of the helm of a ship that was slowly drifting off course.
Mohammed strung together partnerships of 70 with Jonathon Carter, whose contribution was a miniscule 14, and 31 in three overs with Jason Holder (11), that swung the momentum West Indies’ way.
Those stands made a situation of battling for survival and trying to be competitive into real hope that this inexperienced West Indies side, seriously depleted by the absence of a line of globe-trotting T20 stars, could be dangerous when boxed into a corner.
Kieron Powell earlier scored his first ODI fifty since his return to international cricket, 61 off 86, and Evin Lewis scored 47, but the West Indies innings needed impetus, as the Pakistan bowlers kept a tight rein.
The shot in the arm came from a man who seemed to have a liking for chasing targets, and his support cast lower down the order did not let him down. Their collective heroics handed West Indies their highest successful run-chase in ODIs and the winning target is now the highest score in the format at the venue. West Indies finished on 309-6 with exactly an over to spare.
Eclipsing the target meant that for the first time at Providence an ODI produced over 600 runs, surpassing the 514 by West Indies and England in 2009. It was also only the third time 300 or more have been scored in an ODI innings at the venue.
It’s not the sort of statistics one would associate with Providence; prior to it being re-laid, it earned the tag of being low and slow- a batsman’s nightmare. All that changed once Holder won the toss and decided he would have a bowl.
The tourists were given a brisk start of 85 in 15 overs by opener Ahmed Shehzad and Kamran Akmal, who took full advantage of the new surface, which proved conducive for stroke-play.
Akmal was the aggressor, blasting five fours and three sixes in 47 off 48 balls. Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez then added 64 for the second wicket, before Shehzad was bowled by Nurse for 67 (83 balls; 6x4s) at 149-2 in the 28th over.
Regular number three Babar Azam, batting at number four for the first time, was dismissed by Nurse for 13 at 177-3 in the 36th over, before Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, Pakistan’s two most experienced batsmen with a combined 428 ODI games and over 12,000 runs, proceeded to dictate terms for the remainder of the innings. They added 89 in 10 overs.
Hafeez justified the decision to bat at three, cracking 88 off 92 (6x4s, 3x6s), while Malik was sublime in a stroke-filled 53 off 38 balls (6x4s, 2x6s). Skipper Safraz Ahmed chipped in with 20 off 13 balls, while Nurse was the most successful bowler with 4-62.
At that stage, the Pakistanis were the happier team over lunch; little did they know dinner would be hard to swallow.