Thursday, April 25, 2024

Windies by one


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THERE WAS REGGAE on the Hill but the Caribbean cricketers brought their own calypso beat to Kensington Oval yesterday.
And what a hit for six it was from Dwayne Bravo into the Hall & Griffith Stand that gave the West Indies a one-run victory by the Duckworth/Lewis Method over Pakistan in the Fourth Digicel One-Day International (ODI).
The massive six came just as rain, which had caused three stoppages, finally swept across the floodlit ground, ending the match at 5:25 p.m. with the Windies safely on 154 for four in 29.3 overs, chasing a revised target of 223 for victory in 39 overs.  
Machel Montano’s road-march winning hit Advantage was appropriately played in the Party Stand when it was announced that the West Indies were ahead of the 153 par score by a solitary run, to start the celebration.
But with neither Mac Fingall nor Gravy present, it was as if Iwer George’s Trini People had come to the Windies and the music was sweet like steel pan.
Opener Lendl Simmons took on Machel’s command as conductor of the band for the third straight match, stamping, trampling and jumping “pon” the Pakistani bowling as – for the first time in the series – Windies did their own song and dance. Simmons danced his way to a stroke-filled 76 off 70 balls, adorned with four fours and three sixes to help cut Pakistan’s series lead to 3-1. 
Earlier, Pakistan’s total of 248 for nine off their allotted 50 overs was built around opener Mohammed Hafeez’s fine 121 off 138 balls, revived following a 45-minute rain stoppage between innings.
Afterwards, the music from Simmons’ bat had the fans in the Greenidge & Haynes Stand dancing and jumping. On stage with Simmons for the first eight power play overs that brought 55 runs after makeshift opener Kirk Edwards went for a first-ball “duck”, snicking Junaid Khan’s outswinger to the wicketkeeper, was Darren Bravo.
But after reaching 21 Bravo chased a wide delivery from Khan and got a thick edge which carried to third man, making way for Ramnaresh Sarwan’s first appearance after the World Cup.It was a slow groove from Sarwan as he made 28 off 56 balls with one boundary, not keeping up with the tempo of Simmons even though the pair still stayed in tune with a third-wicket stand of 75 in 15.5 overs. 
Like Machel did in this year’s Carnival, Simmons took advantage of 32-year-old debutant pacer Tanvir Ahmed, with a smashing six over midwicket. He was even more “wutless” in the next over from Tanvir which yielded 20 runs.
After Darren Bravo started with a leg glance for four, Simmons essayed a superb scoop shot over long leg for six and sliced the next two deliveries past the short third man for boundaries.
However, the hosts strayed off key twice with the soft dismissals of Sarwan and Simmons within three runs of each other. First, Sarwan casually gifted his hand to Hafeez with a gentle push into the hands of Junaid. And in the next over, Simmons tried to lift the tempo again against Tanvir and was caught by a diving Usman Saluhuddin, coming off the cover boundary.
But once the instructions came from the dressing room about what was required for victory under the Duckworth/Lewis Method, Dwayne Bravo obliged for the Windies’ first win against Pakistan in their last nine ODIs and a rare triumph over quality opponents. 
Earlier, Man Of The Match Hafeez anchored Pakistan’s innings with his second ODI century which was decorated with seven fours and three sixes, despite another impressive new ball spell by Ravi Rampaul, who started with two consecutive maidens.
After the early loss of opener Ahmed Shehzad for six at 15 for one – miscuing a short ball from pacer Kemar Roach, Hafeez shared a solid second-wicket stand of 153 runs in 33.5 overs with Asad Shafiq, who made 71 off 102 balls.
But after Shafiq was caught at long-off in the 39th over and captain Shahid Afridi, who promoted himself to No. 4, went for just eight, the innings went into a tailspin with five more wickets falling for 38 runs.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who was surprisingly used from the northern end for his first seven overs, returned for his last three from the preferred southern end and finished with the fine figures of three for 37.


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