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Pakistan won the toss, bowled first and stifled the hosts with spin. Chasing 112, Pakistan, as if to stay true to their reputation, lost their top three cheaply, before Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam took control of the chase and steered them home.
The game was dominated by its youngest player: 18-year old Pakistan legspinner Shadab Khan who enjoyed a debut that bordered on the surreal. He took three wickets with his first eight balls in international cricket as West Indies slumped to 49 for 6. Carlos Brathwaite and Kieron Pollard came together, and two of the game’s most fearsome hitters were forced to play a consolidating role. Brathwaite managed to inject some momentum in the closing overs, but all that ensured was his side just about managed to get to three figures.
Pakistan weren’t authoritative in response, with Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad reminding everyone why they have spent long stints in international wilderness. However, with the asking rate never rising above six, West Indies’ spirited display in the field merely delayed the inevitable.
Where the game was won
It has often seemed no total is too small for Pakistan not to slip up on. Here, they slipped to 49 for 3. But the in-form pair of Malik and Babar, quickly establishing a reputation for consistency, had the clear-headedness to steer the chase with risk-free cricket. They rotated the strike regularly and picked off the poor deliveries to eat into the target. By the time Babar sliced a catch to short third man, Pakistan needed only 18 runs off five overs. The hard work had been done.
The men that won it
Shadab Khan may have been warned by his teammates how playing for Islamabad United was far different to playing for Pakistan, that too in an away game. However, the 18-year old made a mockery of the step up, snaring Chadwick Walton and Lendl Simmons within four deliveries. Walton didn’t pick the googly while Simmons dragged a legspinning delivery onto the stumps. Remarkably, Shadab’s figures of 4-0-7-3 could have been even better had Kamran Akmal, fielding at backward point, not put down a regulation catch.
The streaks continue
This win means Pakistan have now triumphed in each of their last five T20Is, four of them against the West Indies – the other was a commanding nine-wicket win over England. They are unbeaten since losing to Australia at the World T20 last year, and Sarfraz boasts a 100 percent win record in his five games as Pakistan captain in the format. West Indies’ losing run, on the other hand, stretches to four – all of them against Pakistan – and have only won one T20 in the six they’ve played since being crowned World T20 champions in India last year.
Moment of the match
If the PSL was a dream of sorts for Kamran, he was brought sharply back to reality over the course of the afternoon’s events. Playing his first international in nearly three years, with captain Sarfraz having taken over the wicketkeeping role, Kamran was tasked with patrolling the backward point area as Shadab bowled. If he was hoping for an uneventful afternoon, he was to be disappointed. With Shadab’s figures reading three wickets for three runs, Pollard sliced one, headed for what seemed a straightforward catch to Kamran. The 35-year old was painfully slow to move towards the ball, and though he reached it in time, put it down, burnishing his reputation for butterfingers even further.
What was more, this was only the second time Kamran was playing as a specialist batsman. The other came in a game against South Africa in 2007. He had dropped a catch then too, Loots Bosman being the batsman reprieved.
Where they stand
Pakistan take a 1-0 lead. The series now moves to Trinidad & Tobago, where the remaining three matches will be played.
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