DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, CMC – Reigning World champions West Indies were humbled by Pakistan in the opening Twenty20 International here yesterday, after virtually condemning themselves with a feeble batting effort at the Dubai International Stadium.
Sent in, they recovered from a shocking position of 48 for eight in the 12th over to stumble to 115 all out with a ball remaining in the innings, and Pakistan wasted little time in cruising to their target in the 15th over, to complete an uncomplicated nine-wicket victory and take a valuable 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Veteran all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was the only one to emerge from the encounter with any semblance of pride, striking a top score of 55 from 54 balls under pressure.
He put on a 66 in an all-time record ninth wicket stand with Jerome Taylor who made 21, but the Caribbean side never really recovered from the damage done by left-arm spinner Imad Wasim who ripped through the innings with a Man-of-the-Match spell of five for 14 from his four overs.
In reply, Pakistan never looked in danger of botching their run chase and Babar Azam made sure of this with a fluent unbeaten 55 off 37 deliveries.
In only his second T20 International, the right-hander smashed six fours and two sixes and posted a match-winning, unbroken 88-run, second wicket stand with opener Khalid Latif who made a patient 34 not out from 32 balls.
With the second T20 International scheduled for today at the same venue, West Indies were left with several problems to solve in a short space of time.
Without the experience of axed captain Darren Sammy and the unavailable Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, West Indies stumbled and stuttered from the outset.
Left-hander Evin Lewis holed out in the deep for one off the fifth ball of the innings from Imad Wasim who then removed both Andre Fletcher (2) and Marlon Samuels (4) within the space of three deliveries in his next over.
Fletcher missed a slog at the second delivery and was bowled and Samuels pushed forward defensively, missed one that came on with the arm, and was adjudged lbw.
In the very next over – the fourth of the innings – opener Johnson Charles gave himself too much room, missed a cut and was bowled for seven by another left-armer, Mohammad Nawaz, as West Indies crashed to 17 for four.
When debutant Nicholas Pooran feathered a catch behind off left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir for five at 22 for five, the Windies seemed in serious danger of their lowest T20I score but Bravo combined with Kieron Pollard (9) to settle the innings down in a 25-run, sixth wicket stand.
They seemed to be laying the groundwork for a recovery when Imad returned in a second spell to break the stand, bowling Pollard as the right-hander looked to play through the on-side, at 47 for six in the 11th over.
And Imad became the first Pakistani spinner to take a five-wicket haul in T20s when he removed captain Carlos Brathwaite two balls later without scoring, top-edging a paddle sweep to Khalid Latif who ran around to leg gully from slip to pouch the catch.
When Sunil Narine (1) failed to beat Latif’s direct hit from mid-off on a badly judged quick single, West Indies were in a deep hole but Bravo bailed them out with a quality knock which included four fours and two sixes.
He started slowly with his first 18 runs requiring 32 balls but accelerated to reach his fourth T20I half-century off 50 balls. He took 13 runs from the 15th over bowled by Tanvir and combined with Tylor to garner 19 from the following over from seamer Hasan Ali – the most expensive over of the innings.
Bravo raised his half-century in the 19th over by clearing the ropes at cover with left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz but perished in the deep off the penultimate delivery of the innings, with West Indies desperately chasing runs.
The Windies then needed an early breakthrough to remain in the game but none came, as Sharjeel Khan hammered three fours and a six in a 17-ball 22, to dominate an opening stand of 28 with Latif.
And even when he bowled by leg-spinner Samuel Badree in the fourth over, Latif and Babar kept Pakistan on course with positive stroke-play.