PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Teenage leg-spinner Shadab Khan tormented West Indies yet again to earn Pakistan a three-run win in the second Twenty20 International, at the Queen’s Park Oval today.
Shadab followed up debut figures of 3 for 7 in the tourists’ six-wicket victory at Kensington Oval on Sunday with 4 for 14 as Pakistan successfully defended an average total of 132, restricting the West Indies to 129 for 8 to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
The 18-year-old struck the telling blow with the final delivery of his spell, a googly that top-scorer Marlon Samuels (44 off 35 balls), could only edge behind to reduce West Indies – at one stage 60 for 1 – to 81 for 6.
Despite Samuels’s early aggression in the small chase and Shadab heroics that followed, the contest moved palpably towards a photo finish in the later stages. Fourteen runs were required off the final Hasan Ali over, which was quickly reduced to six from four with two nonchalant boundaries off the blade of Sunil Narine.
The 22-year-old Hasan then turned to bowling off-cutters as Narine played and missed two deliveries either side of a wide. The fifth ball resulted in Narine’s run-out, leaving the well-set Jason Holder (26 not out off 17) needing a six to win or a four to tie the contest. He could only dig out a full-length delivery down the ground for a single, sparking jubilant celebrations in the Pakistan camp.
Like with their fielding performance, West Indies’ chase swung between the sublime and the ludicrous. Opener Evin Lewis was run out in bizarre fashion early on despite technically going past the popping crease at the non-strikers end. His feet were off the ground and his bat had slipped out his hand during an attempt to avoid a collision with a fielder backing up for the overthrow. The dressing room wasn’t pleased but those were the rules.
Another collision not too long after, involving Ahmed Shehzad and Chadwick Walton, turned a little more serious, requiring the summoning of the paramedics and an ambulance.
Shehzad, who had charged in from backward point to field a delivery, found himself in the path of an onrushing Walton and took a knock to the back of his neck. After initial treatment, the Pakistan opener was fitted with a neck brace and stretchered off in an ambulance. The worries however were allayed a few overs later when Shehzad took the field once more.
But by then, Samuels had set himself up to power West Indies’ chase almost single-handedly. In a bid to unsettle the spinners on a helpful surface, the senior batsman launched a serious counter-attack. A 19-run over off Imad Wasim took the West Indies to 60 for 1 after eight overs.
Shadab then sprung into action of his own. A googly cleaned up Walton. In his next over, the leggie spun one past the clueless Kieron Pollard who unnecessarily charged him and was stumped. He then cleaned up a befuddled Rovman Powell for a first-ball duck. Hasan Ali took Lendl Simmons out LBW with an inswinger. Samuels attempted to play out Shadab’s final over but another googly found his outside edge on its way to the keeper, handing West Indies their biggest blow. From 60 for 1, they had fallen to 81 for 6.
Even with the required rate creeping up past the eight-run mark, the hosts trusted their boundary-hitting abilities to bail them out in the small chase. It nearly did as captain Carlos Brathwaite and Holder stitched together a vital 33-run stand before a 93mph Wahab Riaz full delivery breached Brathwaite’s attempt to mow the ball to cow corner. The equation reduced from 30 off three to 19 off two before Wahab gave Ali a healthy cushion of 14 to defend in the final over.
Perhaps, Wahab’s most telling strikes in the game came in the earlier innings when he combined with Shadab to put on a 36-run stand for the ninth wicket that gave Pakistan four more runs than the average T20I score at the venue. Wahab muscled two sixes and a four in his 10-ball 24 that tilted the momentum in Pakistan’s favour right at the very end despite an admirable bowling effort from West Indies, who opted to field.
Only Babar Azam (27 off 28) and Shoaib Malik (28 off 20) showed any control on the wicket as Pakistan struggled to force the pace on the wicket. Samuel Badree struck in the first over to remove Kamran Akmal (0) and then returned to remove debutant Fakhar Zaman in his frugal return of 2 for 14. Narine bowled his mixed bags to claim 3 for 22 and captain Brathwaite also added three wickets (3 for 37). His figures, however, bore the brunt of several fielding lapses, all of which cost the West Indies dear at the end.