Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan opener Babar Azam walloped a career-best 97 not out to not only lead his side to an 82-run win over the West Indies in the second Twenty20 International in Karachi, but also hand them an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Pakistan’s victory also marked their seventh successive Twenty20 International series win.
Choosing to bat first, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman on the 10th ball of the match as he was caught behind off the bowling of Rayad Emrit for six runs.
Azam and Hussain Talat made up for the loss of Zaman with a fantastic 119-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries.
With Pakistan cruising, the West Indies finally got the breakthrough they sorely needed in the 14th over when Talat was dismissed by debutant Odean Smith for a career-best 63, which came off 41 balls and included eight boundaries and a six.
Asif Ali fell for 14, but Azam went on to make a career-best 97 not out, which came off 58 balls and included 13 boundaries and a six, to help Pakistan finish on 205/3, which is their highest score in Twenty20 Internationals.
Emrit, Smtith and Kesrick Williams picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 206 to win, the West Indies got off to a horrible start as opener Andre Fletcher was clean bowled by Mohammad Nawaz for one run.
Chadwick Walton began to up the ante after Fletcher was dismissed, but he ended up being cleaned up by Shadab Khan for a 29-ball 40, which included five boundaries and two sixes.
Shadab struck again in his next over, removing Marlon Samuels for 12 runs, before the West Indies began to lose wickets at regular intervals, largely thanks to Mohammad Amir as he took three wickets in the 18th over.
As a result, they ended up being bowled out for 123.
Amir was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Shadab and Talat took two wickets apiece. As for Nawaz and Hasan Ali, they claimed one wicket each.
West Indies stand-in captain Jason Mohammed was disappointed to have lost, and said: “Disappointing performance. We tried to set aggressive fields to try and get early wickets. It’s difficult at times. Hopefully we can go home with a victory.”
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was thrilled to have won the series, and said: “The guys understand their roles well. I’m trying to learn as much as possible as captain, especially getting angry on the field (laughs). It feels good when youngsters come into the side. I want to give them confidence. Whoever has come in recently has delivered. We have focused a lot on fitness in recent times. We’ve made this very clear: you will be available to play if fit.”
Azam was named Man of the Match, and said: “I didn’t get the hundred because of my own fault. The team’s plan for me was to bat out the 20 overs. Fakhar Zaman doesn’t allow pressure to escalate, that helps me play my normal game.”