The saying goes that slow and steady wins the race, and that proved true for Pakistan as they sauntered to a seven-wicket win over the West Indies on Monday.
Chasing just 221 for victory, the visitors seemed almost assured of victory from the outset of their innings, with the St Lucia pitch a batsmen’s wicket. However, Shahid Afidi’s men certainly took nothing for granted in their pursuit of victory.
At times it was hard to watch as the Pakistani opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad eked out runs at a painstakingly slow pace when one felt they could easily up the run rate if they so desired.
Having put on 66 for the opening wicket, Hafeez (32) will be disappointed to have been dismissed by the ever-impressive Devendra Bishoo, top edging an attempted cut to backward point.
As the innings progressed, Shehzad began to find runs harder and harder to come by, and at times his frustration nearly got the better of him. But credit must go to the opener who first with the help of Asad Shaif (23) and then Misbah Ul-Haq (43*) negotiated his way to his second ODI hundred.
Shehzad perished late on and it was left to Misbah and Umar Akmal to crack the closing runs, a task they performed with aggression that had been otherwise lacking.
While they West Indies attack looked blunt for the most part, Bishoo and debutant Anthony Martin did show promise, with the spinners creating problems for the batsmen and for a time created a nice pocket of pressure.
Having been put in to bowl by Shahid Afridi, the hosts were guilty of losing wickets each and every time they were on an upward curve and ultimately fell to a total the tourists should have no trouble at all in chasing down successfully.
Eight of the Windies’ top nine batsmen made it to double figures, but only one made it to a half-ton, leaving captain Sammy to rue a potentially good total instead left hanging 30 to 40 runs short.
Where Lendl Simmons had promised much with a brisk 51 from 48 balls across a turning track, Darren Bravo and middle-order company failed to cash in.
Dwayne Bravo’s rash heave into the deep typified the home side’s ill-discipline with the willow and, as much as Pakistan’s spinners had their opposition outclassed, the West Indies really could’ve and should’ve dug deeper.
Rank tail-ender Kemar Roach, toward the end of the innings, showed just what was on offer when he stuck around for two dozen runs, while Sammy’s 18-run blitz provided decent albeit it brief support.
Saeed Ajmal was the pick of the bowlers with miserly figures of two for 23 across 10 wily overs, which included a plethora of doosras and quicker deliveries.
Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi pitched in with two scalps each, while Hammad Azam was the recipient of Dwayne Bravo’s stupidity on the hoick. Cricket365