Thursday, April 18, 2024

Clean sweep


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KINGSTOWN – West Indies had their Twenty20 World champions aura shattered yesterday after Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad propped Pakistan’s batting up and their bowlers then delivered a stinging 11-run defeat.
Chasing an average target of 136 for victory before a near capacity crowd at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, the Windies batting again misfired, as the Pakistanis bowled with skill and purpose to secure a victory in the second Twenty20 International.
Dwayne Bravo was the topscorer for the home team with 35, Sunil Narine made 28 and Kieron Pollard hit a rapid 23, but none of the other batsmen reached 20, as West Indies failed to come to terms with a slow pitch and the variety of their opponents’ attack.
The result meant Pakistan clinched the series after a tense two-wicket victory the previous day at the same venue ended West Indies’ nine-match unbeaten run in this format.
It also meant that the Windies slid down the World Twenty20 rankings to No. 3 behind Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the new No. 2.
The victory ended a highly successful trip for the visitors that also included a 3-1 victory in the preceding five-match One-day International series.
Steady bowling, led by Narine with three for 26 from his four overs and leg-spinner Samuel Badree with two for 16 from four overs, restricted Pakistan to 135 for seven after they chose to bat.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Akmal hit the topscore of 46 not out from 36 balls for Pakistan to earn the Man-Of-The-Match award and opener Shehzad supported with 44 from 46 balls.
West Indies then endured a dreadful start, when Johnson Charles was caught behind for a duck off left-arm fast bowler Sohail Tanvir in the second over followed by Chris Gayle who was caught at extra-cover from a leading edge off the off-spin of Pakistani captain Mohammad Hafeez.
The hosts were reeling on two for two in the third over and things got worse. Marlon Samuels was caught behind for one off an awkwardly rising delivery from Tanvir in the next over and Lendl Simmons was bowled by Shahid Afridi for three in the eighth over.
West Indies then sprang a surprise, promoting Narine to No. 6 to add some left-handed flavour at a crucial juncture – a move that had a bit of success.
Narine struck three fours and one six in a stand of 47 with Dwayne Bravo for the fifth wicket to get the Windies moving in the right direction before he skied a catch to long-on from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal’s bowling, leaving the home team to chase 72 from the remaining 39 balls.
Pollard kept West Indies on track, slamming two fours and two sixes from just ten balls before he was caught at long-off from the bowling of left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, who also had Bravo caught at deep extra-cover next ball, leaving the Caribbean side needing 42 from the last 18 balls.
It was a task that proved beyond them, as Tanvir, Ajmal and the 34-year-old Babar, later named Man Of The Series in his first international appearances, all finished with two wickets apiece from their four overs.
Earlier, West Indies had started well, when leg-spinner Samuel Badree made the breakthrough and had Hafeez caught at short third man for ten from a cut in the fourth over.
The hosts made further inroads when captain Darren Sammy held a sharp return catch to dismiss Umar Amin for seven in the seventh over.
Badree tightened the grip, when he ran back almost to the edge of field restriction circle to take a swirling, return catch to dispatch Haris Sohail for one in the next over.
West Indies had Pakistan on the ropes on 42 for three before Akmal came to the crease and gave the innings the first signs of life in a stand of 36 for the fourth wicket with Shehzad.
Pollard broke the stand, when Shehzad top-edged a pull  and Narine followed up two overs later, having Afridi caught at deep square-leg for six before the Pakistanis reached 100.
West Indies remained steadfast throughout the last five overs, but Akmal squeezed out precious runs. (JG)


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