PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Hometown boy Evin Lewis went on a six-hitting spree to lead the charge with a pugnacious 91 that ended West Indies’ home season losing skid in style with a convincing seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 International yesterday here.
Playing in front of a crowd of more than 6,000, the diminutive left-hander went ballistic upon the Pakistani bowlers, striking five fours and an incredible nine sixes from just 51 balls, as the Windies successfully chased 138 on a docile Queen’s Park Oval pitch to claim their first victory in six international matches on home soil for the year.
The 25-year-old Lewis from the remote village of Tableland about 30 kilometres east of the southern Trinidad city of San Fernando shared half-century stands with Marlon Samuels and compatriot Jason Mohammed to be a shoo-in for the Player-of-the-Match prize and put the West Indies firmly on track for a morale-boosting victory before he was dismissed with four needed.
Lendl Simmons, another Trinidad & Tobago native, carried the home team to the magic number with 31 balls remaining, when he scorched a drive back past leg-spinner Shadab Khan, whose bowling was the difference between the two sides in the first two matches in the series, but was reduced to rubble by a rampaging Lewis.
The result meant that West Indies now trail 1-2 in the four-match series, following a six-wicket loss in the first T20I last Sunday at Kensington Oval and a three-run defeat in the second match last Thursday at this venue. The final match of the series will be contested on Sunday here.
West Indies did well to recover from a half-century, third-wicket stand between Kamran Akmal and Babar Azam to restrict the Pakistanis to 137 for eight from their allocation of 20 overs after they chose to bat.
After leg-spinner Samuel Badree struck twice in the first over of the match, Akmal hit top score of 48 and Babar supported with 43 in a stand of 88 before the Pakistanis badly lost their way in the second half of their innings.
The Windies then suffered a setback in the second over, when Chadwick Walton was caught at deep backward square-leg off Sohail Tanveer for one from a flick.
But Lewis had a slice of good fortune on seven, when mid-off fielder Imad Wasim failed to get his fingers under a low chance off Tanveer in the fourth over with West Indies 16 for one.
Marlon Samuels got into action with a wristy flick off Tanveer for four, but Lewis started to cut loose, taking a couple of boundaries off the same bowler’s second over before collecting three sixes in the space of six deliveries off Wasim and Hassan Ali, as the hosts reached 49 for one at the close of Power Play overs.
Samuels late cut Shadab to square third-man to take West Indies past 50, but he was caught at long-off for 18 from a mistimed drive at a slower delivery from left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz off the last ball of the eighth over.
The Windies were 58 for two, but Jason Mohammed, replacing Rovman Powell in the line-up, brought a steadying influence and guided Lewis to his 50 which came with a hearty pull high over deep mid-wicket for his fourth six off Shadab in the 12th over.
Lewis celebrated with another six high over deep square leg off the same bowler two balls later and he never eased up, saving his best for Tanveer’s third over.
He smashed three sixes – all over the leg-side – and sliced a drive to third man for four in the 14th over of the innings which cost 24 and condemned the left-arm fast-medium bowler to figures of 0-41 from three overs.
A savage slog/sweep off Shadab over cow corner gave Lewis the highest score by a West Indies batsman against Pakistan in a T20I before he was caught at long-off trying to hit the winning runs off the same bowler.
Earlier, there was an eventful start to the Pakistan innings, when Ahmed Shehzad swung the very first delivery of the match from Badree to the deep backward square leg boundary for four.
The West Indies leg-spinner got retribution however, when the Pakistani opener was bowled for four with the next delivery, wrong-footed, moving down the pitch and looking to play into the leg-side.
Two balls later, Badree struck again, when left-hander Imad Wasim, promoted to three, reached for a delivery outside the off-stump, lost his balance and was stumped for a duck to leave the visitors four for two.
But Akmal and Babar stemmed the fall of wickets with purposeful batting, carrying Pakistan to 42 for two at the end of the Power Play.
The West Indies bowlers continued to leak boundaries before Babar brought up the 50 partnership with a single to fine leg off Sunil Narine in the eighth over.
But the breakthrough for the Windies came from an unlikely source, when Marlon Samuels came on to bowl and had Akmal caught at deep mid-wicket with his first delivery, a high, loose, full toss – if ever there was one – in the 13th over.
This triggered a golden period for the Windies, as they claimed the next six Pakistani wickets for 45 runs in the space of 43 balls.
Badree was the most successful West Indies bowler with 2-22 from his allotted four overs.