Skipper sparkles but Pakistan level

West Indies plunged from the lofty heights of Friday’s sensational opening win, producing an underwhelming performance to slump to a 74-run defeat to Pakistan in the second One-Day International here Sunday.

Set 283 to win and wrap up a series victory over Pakistan for the first time in nearly 30 years, West Indies stumbled when it mattered most and were bundled out for 208 off 44.5 overs at the Guyana National Stadium.

Captain Jason Holder top-scored with a career-best 68 while Ashley Nurse got a robust 44 but the Windies batting suffered a spectacular failure, with none of the top six getting past 15.

Pacer Hasan Ali was outstanding, claiming five for 38 while off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez picked up two for 23, as the euphoria from the successful record run chase three days ago all but dissipated.

The result left the three-match series in the balance at 1-1, with the third and decisive game set for Tuesday.

Babar Azam had earlier struck his fifth ODI hundred and fourth in five matches against West Indies, to help Pakistan recover from a slowish start and rack up 282 for five, after being sent in.

The right-handed Babar stroked a career-best unbeaten 125 off 132 deliveries while Imad Wasim came at the end to lash an unbeaten 43 off 35 balls.

Hafeez got 32 and captain Sarfraz Ahmed chipped in with a run-a-ball 26, while fast bowler Shannon Gabriel led the bowlers with two for 50.

Pakistan were off the pace at 188 for five after 40 overs but Asam and Imad combined to plunder 84 runs off the last seven overs – in an 89-run, unbroken sixth wicket stand which gave the innings much needed impetus.

Seemingly still inspired from their opening win, West Indies startedly strongly when they removed dangerous openers Ahmed Shezad (5) and Kamran Akmal (21) chealy to leave Pakistan 44 for two in the ninth over.

Gabriel claimed Shezad to a smart leg-side catch by wicketkeeper Shai Hope while Joseph accounted for Akmal in identical fashion.

Azam then paced the innings nicely with three vital partnerships. He put on 69 for the third wicket with Hafeez, added 55 for the fifth with Sarfraz before his belter at the end with Imad.

All told, Azam struck seven fours and three sixes while the left-handed Imad blasted a pair of four and sixes.

Needing to score at just over 5-1/2 runs an over, openers Evin Lewis (13) and Chadwick Walton (12) threatened, albeit briefly, each smashing two boundaries to give the Windies a lively start.

However, the rut started when Walton holed out to mid-on off left-arm seamer Junaid Khan in the fourth over and Lewis followed in the next over, lbw shuffling back to pacer Mohammed Amir.

The stylish Shai Hope scored 15 from 12 balls before picking out Shadab Khan at cover off Hasan Ali in the ninth over and Kieran Powell was lbw on review to Hasan Ali for 11,after umpire Ian Gould’s initial decision had gone in the batsman’s favour.

The dire scenario was ripe for Jason Mohammed’s heroics but he showed little glimpse of last Friday’s match-winning form, caught behind sweeping at Hafeez in the 14th over after spending 16 deliveries over a single run.

When left-hander Jonathan Carter missed a sweep at Hafeez and was lbw in the 18th over, West Indies were in freefall at 75 for six and in danger of being dismissed for their lowest-ever total against Pakistan.

But Holder and Nurse shook things up in a 58-run, seventh wicket partnership, reviving the innings and handing the Windies the narrowest of lifelines.

Nurse, in particular, extended his good form, doing the bulk of the scoring in a 43-ball cameo that included six fours and a six. Holder, meanwhile, looked in great touch as he gathered six fours and a six off 87 balls.

Pakistan were becoming increasingly uneasy the longer partnership wore on but Hasan Ali returned for a second spell and struck in his first over, trapping Nurse plumb lbw in the 29th over at 133 for seven.

Even then, Holder kept going and raised his third half-century in ODIs when he stroked Mohammed Amir to the cover boundary in an over – the 39th of the innings – which leaked 16 runs.

His 52-run, ninth stand with Alzarri Joseph (15) saw West Indies past the 200-run mark but both fell to Hasan Ali in the space of five balls in the 45th over, to secure the result for Pakistan.

(Taken from windiescricket.com)