Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
It was a night to remember for debutant Hussain Talat as he smashed a superb 41 to lead his side to a convincing 143-run win over the West Indies in the first Twenty20 International in Karachi.
The match was a historic one as it marked the return of international cricket to Karachi for the first time since 2009.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s margin of victory was the second-highest in Twenty20 International history.
Being put in to bat first, the West Indies made a scorching start to their innings as Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam amassed a 46-run partnership in less than five overs before Azam was given out lbw off the bowling of Rayad Emrit for 17.
Zaman went on to make a 24-ball 39 before he was run out by debutant Veerasammy Permaul, who was later on stretchered off halfway through his first over as he sustained an ankle injury.
Talat and captain Sarfraz Ahmed stabilised the innings with a 75-run stand before Talat was run out by Chadwick Walton for 41, which came off 37 balls and included two boundaries and a six.
Sarfraz ended up scoring a 22-ball 38 and even though debutant Asif Ali fell shortly after, Shoaib Malik hammered an unbeaten 37 off 14 balls to help Pakistan finish on 203/5, which equalled their highest score in Twenty20 Internationals.
Emrit, Rovman Powell and debutant Keemo Paul picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 204 to win, the West Indies found themselves in a world of trouble early on as Mohammad Nawaz and Mohammad Amir speared through their top order.
With Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan also joining the party, the West Indies were left reeling at 33/6.
Emrit and Paul temporarily stopped the bleeding with an 18-run partnership before Emrit was dismissed by Malik, who took out Kesrick Williams the very next ball.
With Permaul unable to bat, the West Indies ended up being skittled out for 60, which is their lowest score in Twenty20 Internationals, when Samuel Badree was caught by Malik at midwicket off the bowling of Talat for seven runs.
Nawaz, Amir and Malik took two wickets apiece, while Talat, Hasan and Shadab claimed one wicket each.
West Indies stand-in captain Jason Mohammed was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “It was a tough day. Think we did well with the ball till the last two overs. Our batting was bad. Looked like a good wicket, it is a good wicket, but our shot execution wasn’t good.
“We need to stay positive and come back strong. Try and do the basics right tomorrow. First time being in Pakistan for international cricket, and it feels good.”
Sarfraz was thrilled to have won, and said: “I think we were excellent. Fakhar’s start was great and then how Talat and Shoaib bhai finished off was great. We want to play every game without relaxing. West Indies are a good team, and we’re certain they’ll come back strong tomorrow – so no relaxing despite the win.
“Hope to continue this form. The next match is very important, and if we can, we will definitely give Shaheen [Afridi] a chance to debut as well.”
Talat was named Man of the Match, and said: “I am delighted, and all those people who have supported me in my rise, I want to thank them. I wanted to play my normal cricket, and have been thinking of this moment for the past two years. I worked hard during the two PCB camps for high-performers, and this domestic season was great too.”