WIvPAK, 2nd ODI…..Babar Azam ton seals series for Pakistan

Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels stroked half-centuries in an improved West Indies performance but the Caribbean side were still distinctly second best, slumping to a 59-run loss to Pakistan in the second One-Day International to concede the three-match series here Sunday.

After a woeful performance in last Friday’s first ODI, West Indies displayed more fight this time around but their target of 338 were well always beyond their reach, and they buckled under the burden of a rising required run rate and declined to 278 for seven, to lose their fifth straight game on tour.

Left-hander Bravo top-scored with an attractive 61 off 74 deliveries while veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels struck 57 off 52 balls. Opener Kraigg Brathwaite chipped in with a dogged 39 and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, 34.

At 194 for three in the 38th over, West Indies retained some hope – albeit faint – of overhauling their target, especially with Samuels and Ramdin at the crease and the likes of Carlos Brathwaite and Kieron Pollard still to come

But three wickets tumbled for 37 runs in the space of 29 balls to leave the Windies on 231 for six in the 43rd over and Holder’s unbeaten 31 off 26 balls, was only of academic importance at the end.

Earlier, Babar Azam had spearheaded Pakistan’s charge with his second straight hundred, as the hosts capitalised on a poor bowling effort to pile up 337 for five off their 50 overs – the third highest ever total in an ODI at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Babar, batting at number three, stroked 123 from 126 deliveries to follow up his 120 in the opening game last Friday at the same venue, while veteran right-hander Shoaib Malik struck 90 off 84 balls and Sarfraz Ahmed, an unbeaten 60 off 47 balls.

Pakistan were in a spot of bother at 40 for two in the fifth over before Babar and Shoaib took the game away from West Indies in a record third wicket stand of 169.

Babar struck nine fours and a six while Shoaib was aggressor, smashing three fours and six sixes before perishing in the 34th over.

However, Sarfraz joined Babar to add a further 73 for the fourth wicket to ensure Pakistan laid the groundwork to get beyond the 300-run mark.

With them in full flight and the Windies bowlers losing their shape, Pakistan hastily gathered 97 runs from the last ten overs.

Seamer Holder finished with two for 51 while debutant fast bowler Alzarri Joseph picked up two for 62.

West Indies then suffered an early setback in their run chase when Johnson Charles picked out cover with seamer Mohammad Amir in the second over of the innings, to depart for two with three runs on the board.

A series of partnerships then ensured there was no top order collapse. Firstly, Bravo and Brathwaite cautiously set about repairing the innings in a stand of 89 for the second wicket, which put West Indies in sight of the 100-run mark.

Bravo, dropped on 43 by captain Azhar Ali at cover off left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, struck five fours and three sixes – the latter all clean, powerful strikes down the ground.

Brathwaite, meanwhile, counted three fours in a laborious 66-ball knock before he was run out at 92 for two in the 22nd over after advancing down the pitch for a non-existent single and then failing to beat Mohammad Nawaz’s throw to the striker’s end.

Bravo had added a further 35 for the third wicket with Samuels when he too perished via the run out route, found short of his ground at the non-striker’s end by a direct hit from bowler Hasan Ali, attempting a quick single.

With the required run rate rising to above ten after 30 overs and West Indies needing someone to kick-start the innings, Samuels took command, posting an invaluable 67 for the fourth wicket with Ramdin.

The right-hander, dropped on 16, 38 and 57, slammed four fours and two sixes – both coming off left-arm spinner Imad Wasim in the 33rd over of the innings which leaked 16 runs.

He reached his 28th ODI half-century off 45 balls three overs later but then lasted just five more deliveries before playing on to left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz who finished with two for 48.

On 194 for four in the 38th over, West Indies suffered a mini slide. Ramdin also played on to Wahab in the 40th over after lashing a four and a six off 50 balls and Carlos Brathwaite was run out for 14 in the 43rd, courtesy of a direct hit from bowler Wahab.

With the Windies needing a miracle, Kieron Pollard showed little intent, gathering a lacklustre 22 from 29 balls in a 42-run seventh wicket stand with Holder.

By the time he holed out in the deep in the penultimate over off Imad, the game had long escaped West Indies.

(Taken from windiescricket.com)