Thirty-five-year-old Shoaib Malik produced the knock of the series, a sensational 101 from 111 deliveries to hand Pakistan a six-wicket win over a brittle West Indies side in the third and final Brighto Paints Q Mobile Cup One-Day International yesterday at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence to seal the series 2 – 1.
Malik, who looked in subline touch, stroked the first ball of the 44th over of Pakistan’s innings to register his century and win the game for his side as his teammates rushed onto the field with much jubilation.
Malik was not alone as the other `veteran’ in the side, Mohammad Hafeez (81) dished out one of his best innings of the series as well.
The experienced duo employed pure skill to engineer a 113-run, fourth-wicket partnership to flatten the hosts. It was something of an anti-climax after the West Indies, who won the first match of the series, failed to register another win thereafter.
The day started with Jason Holder winning the toss for the third successive time but on this occasion, choosing to bat first after including Guyanese left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul to field three spinners in the side.
The all-important decider, which started almost 30 minutes late due to brief morning showers, saw the West Indian openers toiling hard for runs in slightly overcast conditions.
Evin Lewis got going by means of playing his favourite cut shot through point for four in the second over before Junaid Khan though got the breakthrough in the eighth over when Lewis (15) miscued a hook shot and held out to a waiting Hafeez on the deep-square-leg boundary to leave the home side on 31 for 1.
Pakistan was soon celebrating again when last match hero, Hasan Ali removed Chadwick Walton (19) bowled after he inside-edged a delivery, playing away from his body to register another failure at this level.
The score was 44 – 2 at the end of the first power play with number three batsman Kieran Powell and the gifted Shai Hope at the crease with some rebuilding to do.
The two batted carefully and pushed the score along during which Powell was given a reprieve after Kamran Akmal graceful dropped him at mid-on during the 17th over when he was on 16, ahead of the first water break with the score on 62 – 2.
Powell, in the second over after the break, skipped down the track and was stumped by the wicketkeeper by a ball that spun between his bat and pad to give Imad Wasim his first wicket of the match. The score at that point was 63 for 3 and the West Indies were in some trouble.
It was slow progress at the halfway point, with West Indies ambling along on 82 for 3 with Hope on 17 from 49 deliveries and Jason Mohammed, who had recently joined him on six from 18 balls.
The two started to play a bit more freely while pushing the score to 136 for three at the end of the 35th over with Mohammed especially looking in good touch after swatting Ali over mid-wicket for six in the previous over.
Mohammed, the 30-year-old Trinidadian, who made a significant mark in first ODI, brought up his second 50 of the series in the 40th over. His 50 came from 56 balls and he stroked three fours and two sixes. His partner Hope, who played a contrasting knock, carefully reached his 50 in the same over off 97 balls, reaching the boundary once. The two at that point added 92 for the fifth wicket.
At 161 for 3 with 10 overs remaining and with both batsmen well set the stage was set for the West Indies to make their push.
The 100 run partnership came up in the following over, which took 129 balls but
Mohammed (59), however, was soon dismissed, trying to run a Junaid Khan delivery down to the third man and was well taken by the wicketkeeper.
With eight overs to go, Jonathan Carter was now at the crease with Hope, with a good platform to launch and assault.
Carter (11), who started the eighth over with a giant six over mid-wicket was bowled two balls later by Shadab Khan to leave the Windies on 192 for 5 which brought skipper Holder to the crease.
The home side looked set to post a competitive score when Hope spanked Khan over mid-wicket for six to take Windies to 200 in the 45th over as he moved into the seventies.
They, however, ended on 233 – 9 after only scoring 29 runs off the last five overs as Hope 71 from 112 deliveries, Holder (12), Permaul (8) and Davendra Bishoo (0) all fell in the process.
Mohammad Amir (2-41), Khan (2-60) and Shadab (2-57) were the pick of the bowlers for the visitors.
Pakistan, in pursuit of a series win away from home, were in early trouble at 16 for 2 after losing Kamran Akmal (0) off the first ball of the innings and Ahmed Shehzad (3). Gabriel got his second wicket when he bowled the dangerous Babar Azam for 16 to leave Pakistan in further trouble at 45 for three at the end of the first power play.
The crowd sensing that the Windies were in with a chance, chanted `let’s go Windies, let’s go’ as the Guyanese pair of Bishoo and Permaul bowled in tandem. The two, however, had little effect as the experienced pair repaired the innings, adding 88 runs for the fifth wicket and taking the score to 124 –3 at the halfway point with Hafeez on 72 while Malik sat on 29 coasting along.
Pakistan pushed along to reach 144-3 after the 28th over, during which the pair brought up their 100-run partnership as Holder tried part-time spinner Mohammed who was clobbered over mid-on for six to move Pakistan closer to their target.
West Indies got a bit to smile about when Nurse dismissed Hafeez for 81 from 86 balls an innings decorated with eight fours and two sixes but that was the last bit of success for the boys in maroon as Pakistan strolled home with six wickets to spare, Malik finishing the game with a six to also register his century which included 10 fours and two sixes. Skipper Safraz Amhed (24) was there at the end with Malik to seal the game with an unbeaten 87-run, fifth wicket stand.
There wasn’t much to write about the West Indies bowling besides the fact that homeboy Bishoo was once again economical with figures of none for 42 from 10 overs while Gabriel was once again unlucky ending with 2 for 61 from 10 overs. Malik took both the player of the match and series award.
The series defeat means it is now 26 years since the West Indies last won a One Day International series against Pakistan.