GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Veteran Shoaib Malik stroked a sublime unbeaten hundred as West Indies’ near three-decade wait for a bilateral series win over Pakistan continued here today with a comprehensive six-wicket defeat in the the decisive third and final One-Day International.
Defending 234 on a sluggish track at the Guyana National Stadium, West Indies looked in control when the visitors slumped to 36 for three in the ninth over but their hopes were then ruined by Shoaib’s silky 101 not out off 111 balls – the 35-year-old’s ninth one-day century.
Shoaib reached the landmark off the last ball of the game when he launched captain and seamer Jason Holder for a straight six off the first ball of the 44th over.
He had earlier combined with the enterprising Mohammad Hafeez, who scored a fluent 81, to add 113 for the fourth wicket before joining with captain Sarfraz Ahmed (24 not out) to post an additional 87 in an unbroken fifth wicket partnership.
Opting to bat first, West Indies had crept to 233 for nine off their 50 overs behind half-centuries from Shai Hope and in-form Jason Mohammed, as the hosts struggled to score freely.
The stylish Hope battled to a top score of 71 off 112 deliveries while Mohammed, in contrast, struck a fluent 59 from 64 balls.
Left-hander Kieran Powell was the only other batsmen to pass 20, making 23, as West Indies once again suffered a top order failure.
Seamers Mohammed Amir (2-41) and Junaid Khan (2-60), along with 19-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Khan (2-57) all finished with a brace of wickets each.
The defeat was the 17th for West Indies in their last 22 ODIs and their fifth straight series loss.
With the series tantalisingly poised at 1-1 after winning the first game last Friday and losing the second on Sunday, West Indies found life difficult early on and were quickly 40 for two after nine overs, after losing their openers cheaply.
Left-hander Evin Lewis was first to fall in the eighth over for 16, pulling Junaid to Hafeez on the ropes at deep square and Chadwick Walton followed in the next over, playing on to seamer Hasan Ali for 19.
Powell struck two fours in a 34-ball knock while adding 28 for the third wicket with Hope before chipping down to impeccable left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, finding himself deceived in flight and smartly stumped by captain Sarfraz.
At 68 for three in the 19th over, the Windies were going nowhere quickly but Mohammed and Hope came together to rescue the innings in a 101-run, fourth wicket partnership.
Both started slowly before blossoming nicely, with Hope counting one four and two sixes and Mohammed smashing five fours and two sixes to register his second half-century of the series and fourth in six innings since returning to international cricket.
With the run rate on the rise, however, West Indies were set back when Mohammed nicked one from Junaid behind to depart in the 41st over.
Left-hander Jonathan Carter (11) put on 23 for the fifth wicket with Hope before missing a sweep at Shadab in the 44th over and having his stumps rattled, and the big blow for West Indies came in the following over from the leg-spinner when Hope holed out to Shoaib Malik at long on at 211 for six.
There was no late acceleration, however, as West Indies added just 22 runs off the last 26 balls of the innings, while losing four wickets.
Despite the limp finish to their innings, West Indies stormed out of the blocks when fast bowler Shannon Gabriel (2-60) had Kamran Akmal caught at cover off a leading edge off the first ball of the innings.
Akmal’s partner Ahmed Shezad (3) was brilliantly caught one-handed by wicketkeeper Hope diving low to his right in the sixth over and the usually prolific Babar Azam played onto Gabriel in the ninth over for 16, leaving Pakistan in strife.
But the side’s two most experienced batsmen came together to steer Pakistan out of trouble. Hafeez struck eight fours and two sixes in an 86-ball knock, reaching his 31st ODI half-century in the 22nd over with a pulled boundary off off-spinner Ashley Nurse.
Shoaib, meanwhile, eased to his first fifty off 68 balls in the 33rd over before upping the tempo to complete his second fifty off a mere 33 deliveries.
When Hafeez top-edged a sweep at Nurse and was caught by Veerasammy Permaul at square, a slim ray of hope emerged for the Windies.
But Shoaib and Sarfraz put the game to bed with an entertaining stand, leaving West Indies without a series win over Pakistan since 1991.