Image courtesy of: India Times
Pakistan were all smiles after having a dreadful time in South Africa and during the Champions Trophy
Pakistan finally got back to their winning ways, thanks to half-centuries from both Ahmed Shehzad and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, as they registered a 3-1 series victory over the West Indies.
Ul-Haq won the toss and chose to bowl first as he was unsure whether the cloud cover would stick around or move on.
The decision to bowl first seemed to be the right one as Pakistan pace bowler Junaid Khan took out Devon Smith and Darren Bravo early into the West Indies’ innings.
However, a 54-run partnership between Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels soon brought the West Indies back into the game, but once again, Charles failed to capitalise on the excellent start he had made as he was dismissed for 43.
Flamboyant batsman Chris Gayle joined Samuels at the crease and looked to be threatening early on, but just as the fire was beginning to roar, he was removed by Khan for just 21 runs.
Samuels, who made 45, and Lendl Simmons, who registered 25 runs, followed soon after and the West Indies looked to be in deep trouble once again.
However, a quickfire 53-run partnership at 11.77 runs per over between captain Dwayne Bravo and all-rounder Darren Sammy soon stabilised the innings and brought the West Indies back into contention.
Bravo was unlucky not to reach his half-century as he was dismissed just two agonising runs short of it by spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Bravo had played a crucial innings for the West Indies, scoring 48 runs off 27 balls, which included five boundaries and three sixes.
Meanwhile, Sammy continued to throw his arm at every delivery he faced and it paid off as his 29 runs off 18 deliveries helped the West Indies post a score of 242 after their 50 overs.
Khan was star of the Pakistan bowling attack with three wickets, while Ajmal and Mohammad Irfan chipped in with two wickets apiece.
Chasing 243 to win, Pakistan got off to a great start as openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad put together a 50-run partnership.
However, right after passing the 50-run mark, tragedy struck for Pakistan as Jamshed was run out for 23.
All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez followed soon after for just 11 as he was caught off the bowling of Sammy.
Shehzad and ul-Haq steadied the Pakistan innings with a 59-run partnership, during which Shehzad brought up his own half-century, but was dismissed not long after.
Harris Sohail failed to do anything impressive with the bat as he just managed 17 runs before being removed by pace bowler Tino Best.
After Sohail’s dismissal, Umar Akmal joined ul-Haq at the crease and the pair recorded a 66-run partnership, during which ul-Haq brought up yet another half-century before Best returned to claim the wicket of Akmal for 37.
Ul-Haq soon found himself back in the pavilion as well as he was caught off the bowling of Jason Holder for 63 runs from 93 balls, which included five boundaries and one six.
Pakistan managed to reach their target with only one ball to spare thanks to Shahid Afridi’s 13 runs off six deliveries, which included one boundary and one maximum.
Best was the pick of the West Indian bowlers with three wickets, while Holder and Sammy each claimed one wicket as well.
Bravo congratulated Pakistan for winning the series, but also praised his team for putting up a great fight.
“Today we lost,” Bravo said. “But the guys fought. You have to give credit to them. Must congratulate Pakistan, and well done to my boys too. The matches could have gone either way. Even today a few key decisions went against us. We can’t fault the effort of the players. The series could have gone our way if some key decisions had gone our way. If you bowl well, 242 was going to be a challenging total. I liked how we believed right until the end. Those key decisions at crucial times cost us. A learning process to me. A new role for me. With the talent we have, I enjoy leading the team. We can’t turn things around overnight, but with the talent we have we can become a very dangerous team.”
Ul-Haq was pleased to have won the series, especially after Pakistan lost to South Africa earlier in the year and failed to win a single match during the Champions Trophy.
Ul-Haq was also named the Man of the Match for his 63 and the Man of the Series for scoring 260 runs in five matches with four half-centuries and an outstanding average of 65.
“Pretty satisfying,” he said. “A win is always good, especially after the losses in South Africa series and Champions Trophy. I knew this pitch was really good to bat on, and if we kept batting till the end, nothing was impossible. The bowling has obviously been our strength. Everybody bowled really well, which was the key in this win. Always tough to bowl first, especially in pressure games like this, but everybody was really positive, that we were going to chase well.”