Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan had a debut to remember as he took three wickets in the midst of an incredibly economical spell to lead his side to a six-wicket win over the West Indies in Barbados.
Opting to bowl first, Pakistan were all over the West Indies early on as Shadab and Imad Wasim ripped through the hosts’ top and middle order to leave them reeling at 49/6.
The returning Kieron Pollard failed to have an impact as he only mustered 14 runs, but captain Carlos Brathwaite and Jason Holder smashed 34 not out and 14 respectively to guide their side to 111/8 off their 20 overs.
Shadab was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing a straightforward target of 112 to win, Pakistan lost opener Ahmed Shehzad early on as he was caught behind off the bowling of Holder for 13.
Kamran Akmal, who had not played a Twenty20 International since April 2014, made an encouraging 22 before falling to Samuel Badree.
Mohammad Hafeez was on his way back to the pavilion shortly after, but Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik steadied the innings with a 46-run partnership before Azam, who made 29, became Holder’s second victim.
Malik went on to make an unbeaten 38, which came off 29 balls and included three boundaries and a six, as Pakistan won the match with 17 balls to spare.
Holder was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Badree and Brathwaite claimed one wicket each.
Brathwaite was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “He [Shadab] bowled plenty of googlies, wicket to wicket, and it was tough to come back from there. We got to 111, but it obviously was not enough. We will have to go back to the drawing board. We will have to find ways to counter spin. There was a little pressure off my shoulder [making 34*], but I would like my team to win.”
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was glad to have started the tour on a high, and said: “I think credit goes to the bowlers. Young Shadab bowled really well. Mentally we are tough, and we hope to keep doing well. I said to Shadab ‘just bowl like you did at the PSL’.”
Shadab was named Man of the Match, and said: “It is a dream debut. I hope I will play and perform as well as I did today for Pakistan. The wicket [spun] and the PSL experience helped.”