By K. K. Shahid
KARACHI: The National Stadium hosted its first international match for nine years as Pakistan blew away the West Indies by 143 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20 series.
This was the greatest margin in terms of runs for a Pakistan win in T20s, and the second largest overall, with the West Indies 60 their lowest in T20s.
Batting first Pakistan posted 203-5, their joint highest in T20s, with the top and middle order among the runs. In reply, a weakened West Indian lineup lost wickets at regular intervals, eventually being bundled out for 60 in 13.4 overs
Having been put into bat after Jason Mohammed won the toss, Pakistan were off to a flyer from the get go, with Fakhar Zaman scoring 13 off the first over bowled by Samuel Badree. Zaman just took off from there, helping Pakistan reach 65 off the first seven overs.
Babar Azam (17 off 13) three majestic boundaries as well in the power play before being dismissed of the last ball of the fifth over, lbw to Rayad Emrit with the score at 46. Zaman was unfortunate to be run out on the first ball off the eighth over making it 65-2 after 7.1.
It was Husain Talat who took over and continued from where he had left off with Islamabad United, as skipper Sarfraz Ahmed joined the debutant in the middle. The duo brought up the hundred in the 11th over, with the captain joining in with the hitting.
The platform was set for Pakistan to go big in the final five overs at 137-2 after 15 overs, with Talat at 41 and Sarfraz at 30, but the momentum was partially dented when the debutant was unfortunately run out in the 16th over, as Shoaib Malik joined the skipper.
Pakistan couldn’t kick on then as Sarfraz for 38 and Asif Ali (1 off 2) got out in back to back overs to Rovman Powell and Keemo Paul respectively, with the score at 156-5 after 17.1.
While Faheem Ashraf was sent in to press the accelerator it was Malik who went big in the 19th over, smacking two fours and two sixes of the last four balls of the penultimate over by Emrit that went for 23 runs, taking Pakistan 182-5 after 19.
Faheem Ashraf then teed off in the final over against Kesrick Williams to finish with 16* off 9, but it was Malik whose 37* ensured that Pakistan crossed the 200 mark.
For Pakistan, Talat top-scored with 41 (37), but the impetus to the innings was provided by Zaman (39 off 24), Sarfraz (38 off 22) and Malik (37 off 14). For the West Indies, it was Paul alone with 1/26 off his four overs who managed to leave a mark, with everyone else going around or over 10 runs per over.
After beginning their chase with a six of the very first delivery that Chadwick Walton struck off Mohammed Nawaz, West Indies were reduced to 8-3 in the middle of the second over. Nawaz dismissed Walton (6 off 4) off the last ball of his over, with Mohammed Amir getting Andre Fletcher and Jason Mohammed – both of whom went without scoring – caught by Hussain Talat in the next over.
The Windies collapse continued when Hasan Ali dismissed Dinesh Ramdin off his first ball to leave the visitors at 15-4 after 4.1 overs, as the third batsmen failed to score for the West Indies. Shadab Khan too get a wicket in his first over, has he dismissed Powell (5 off 10), caught and bowled, with the Windies reeling at 27-5 after 6.4 overs.
The Windies continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, with none of the batsmen putting in enough to make anything remotely close to a match out of the contest. Nawaz got his second in the eighth over as he dismissed the experienced Marlon Samuels (18 off 19), leaving the score at 33-6 after 8 overs, as the required rate approached 15, with the West Indies running out of wickets.
Sarfraz even had the space to bring Shoaib Malik in for a bowl, even though all his main guns were firing. Malik got Paul to edge one between Sarfraz and Babar Azam in first slip as he conceded seven off his first over.
In his second, and innings’ 13th, Malik dismissed Emrit (11 off 20) as he was caught off the square leg boundary by Husain Talat with the score now at 51-7 after 12.2. Malik then removed Williams off the very next delivery to make it 51-8, with Husain Talat getting his first wicket on debut as he Badree for seven.
Amir, Nawaz, and Malik took two wickets each for Pakistan, with Talat, Shadab and Hasan Ali chipping in with one each. For the Windies Samuels top scored with 18, with Paul and Emrit the only others who managed to reach double figures.
West Indies would look to bounce back immediately as the second T20 kicks off on Monday, with the series up for grabs for the hosts.