DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – They might be the World Twenty20 champs. But today West Indies played like chumps as they were rolled over by Pakistan by nine wickets in the first of a three-match series at the Dubai International Stadium.
Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, who represented the Jamaica Tallawahs in this year’s Caribbean Premier League, bowled devastatingly to leave the West Indies’ innings in tatters. They were eventually dismissed for 115 in 19.5 overs.
Wasim became only the second Pakistan bowler, after Umar Gul, to take a five-for in T20Is. Pakistan then merrily cruised to the target with 34 balls to spare to hint at a white-ball revival, having secured their second successive nine-wicket win.
The portents were clear from the first over, after Pakistan chose to field. Taking the new ball, Wasim had opener Evin Lewis top-edge a catch to deep midwicket in the first over swinging against the spin.
In his next over, he accounted for Andre Fletcher and Marlon Samuels to leave West Indies at 16 for 3. A raft of balls fizzed through and thudded into the pad, drawing appeals from an ever-present slip and captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Looking at the scorecard, it may have appeared that Wasim was bowling magic balls. Truth be told, he didn’t turn them much. Instead, he relied on accuracy and drift to run through West Indies.
Fletcher attempted a low-percentage slog against the drift and was bowled. That he remains a part of West Indies’ batting line-up at the top of the order has become a bonus for opposing bowlers.
Samuels’ technique of camping back in the crease was exposed again when he was trapped plumb in front by a full slider. Wasim alternated between a good length and a full length and kept attacking the stumps. West Indies didn’t quite know how to counter that.
Mohammad Nawaz, the other left-arm spinner in the team, joined the fun when Johnson Charles stepped away outside leg, telegraphed a waft at the ball, and missed a fast, skiddy delivery that bowled him. Debutant Nicholas Pooran guided Hasan Ali, the fast bowler, behind after opening his account with a pull for four before Wasim returned and chipped away at the West Indies.
When Wasim dismissed captain Carlos Brathwaite off a tame top-edged paddle-sweep, the left-armer became Pakistan’s first spinner to pick up a five-wicket haul in T20Is. He finished with figures of 4-0-14-5. Throughout his spell, he had only bowled one rank short ball, which was square-cut for four by Samuels.
At 48 for 8 in 12 overs, following the run-out of Sunil Narine, West Indies were in danger of being bowled out for their lowest T20I score. Dwayne Bravo and Jerome Taylor, however, had other ideas. They strung together the highest ninth-wicket partnership in T20Is to save West Indies’ blushes.
Taylor first upset the rhythm of Pakistan when he raced down the track and lofted Nawaz straight over his head for the first six of the match. Bravo, becalmed until then, drove Sohail Tanvir inside-out for six and followed it with a flicked four to rejuvenate the innings.
They hit a higher gear when they took three fours in a 19-run over off the 16th, bowled by Ali. This meant that West Indies passed their previous-lowest score of 79. Tanvir ended the stand when he yorked Taylor for a run-a-ball 21. He ended the innings when he undid Bravo with a legcutter three balls later. With only Bravo and Taylor logging double-digit scores, the recovery would not be enough. Bravo top-scored with 55 in 54 balls, counting four boundaries and two sixes.
Sharjeel Khan set Pakistan’s chase in motion with three fours and a six before his old enemy resurfaced: tendency to pull balls that aren’t short enough. Sharjeel was bowled by a full dart from Samuel Badree for 22, but the wicket only served to alter the margin of victory rather than give West Indies real hope.
The dew-slicked pitch did not help West Indies’ cause either. Their misery was compounded by slipshod fielding. Taylor dropped Babar Azam on 12 at the edge of the long-leg boundary. He went on to seal the chase with successive fours, the first of which snuck through Bravo’s legs to the third-man boundary and gave Azam his maiden T20I half-century.
Opener Khalid Latif completed him, adding 30 in an unbroken 88-run stand for the second wicket. West Indies had managed all of 12 boundaries in this innings. Latif and Azam alone hit 12.
While West Indies seemed to be missing their Champions – Andre Russell, Chris Gayle and Lendl Simmons – Pakistan found their own amid roars of “Champion, Champion” from the sizeable crowd.