GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Jason Mohammed struck the second fastest-ever half-century by a West Indian against Pakistan, as the West Indies pulled off a sensational four-wicket win in the opening match of their One-Day International series Friday.
Having never successfully chased in excess of 300 in an ODI, the inexperienced Windies side tore up the form books to overhaul a challenging target of 308 with an over to spare at the Guyana National Stadium, and take a crucial 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Mohammed was at the heart of the superlative win, producing a magical unbeaten 91 from 58 balls to seal Man-of-the-Match honours. Opener Kieran Powell struck a measured 61, Evin Lewis hit 47 while tail-ender Ashley Nurse smashed a cameo 15-ball 34 not out down the stretch to help see West Indies over the line.
Debutant leg-spinner Shadab Khan (2-52) and seamer Mohammed Amir (2-59) finished with two wickets apiece but were powerless to influence the outcome.
West Indies appeared condemned to their 10th straight defeat in a bilateral series when Pakistan piled up an imposing venue-record 308 for five off their 50 overs – also their highest-ever ODI total against their opponents.
Capitalising on a less than memorable Windies performance in the field, Mohammed Hafeez top-scored with 88 while opener Ahmed Shezad, with 67 and veteran Shoaib Malik, with 53, also chimed in with half-centuries.
Opener Kamran Akmal slammed an entertaining 47 to give the innings a rousing start.
Off-spinner Nurse picked up four for 62 to be the hosts’ best bowler.
West Indies’ victory chances took a further hit when Chadwick Walton drove Amir to Wahab Riaz to mid-off to depart for seven with the score on 23 for one in the fifth over.
However, the left-handed Powell then anchored two successive half-century stands to ensure West Indies did not fall apart at the seams.
Firstly, he put on 68 for the second wicket with Lewis, who struck three fours and two sixes in a 63-ball innings. Powell then added a further 65 for the third wicket with Shai Hope who made a busy 24 off 34 balls with a single four and a six.
Powell emerged from a scratchy start to stroke five fours in an 86-ball stay at the crease, posting his eighth ODI half-century.
On 156 for two in the 33rd over, West Indies received a huge setback when they lost both Powell and Hope in successive overs.
Powell tamely punched the first ball of a new spell from seamer Wahab to mid-off while Hope was drawn from his crease by Shadab and stumped.
Unbeaten on one at this stage with West Indies on 158 for four in the 34th over and facing a daunting required run rate of nearly 10 an over, Mohammed single-handedly transformed the game with an exhibition of stunning ball-striking which stunned a previously buoyant Pakistan.
The 30-year-old right-hander, in only his sixth ODI, belted 11 effortless fours and three huge sixes, in a career-best knock to follow up his two half-centuries against England last month.
Along the way, he inspired two outstanding partnerships, adding 70 off 47 deliveries for the fifth wicket with Jonathan Carter (14) and another 50 with Nurse in an unbroken seventh wicket partnership which required only 27 balls.
He savaged seamer Hasan Ali for 15 runs in the 40th over to move to 46 and raised his half-century off a mere 31 balls with a pulled boundary off the first ball of the next over from Wahab.
West Indies started the last 10 overs needing 93 runs for victory but lost Carter to a catch at short third man in the 42nd over by Aamir and captain Jason Holder for 11, holding out to long-off off Shadab.
But Nurse arrived to play a blinder, lashing five fours and a massive six – the latter a mighty blow over mid-wicket off Shadab – to shift the momentum irreversibly in the Windies favour.
Earlier, Pakistan were gifted a breezy start courtesy of loose bowling from the pace duo of Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph, as Shezad and Akmal put on 85 for the first wicket.
Akmal propelled the early scoring, striking five fours and three sixes off 48 balls and looked to be powering his way to his 11th ODI half-century when he swatted a wide ball from seamer Holder to Walton at cover in the 15th over.
Shezad, meanwhile, strode to his 15th ODI half-century, posting 64 for the second wicket with Hafeez whose innings required 92 deliveries and included six fours and three sixes.
The right-handed Shezad had faced 83 balls and counted six boundaries when he charged Nurse in the 28th over, missed a heave and was bowled.
Babar Azam (13) fell cheaply when he swept Nurse to Joseph at square leg but Hafeez and Shoaib revived Pakistan in an enterprising 89-run, fourth wicket partnership which ensured the visitors posted their highest-ever ODI total against the Windies. (CMC)