Afridi's all-round show crushes West Indies

Georgetown (Guyana), July 15 (IANS/CMC) West Indies bowlers and batsmen failed to capitalize on an early breakthrough from promising fast bowler Jason Holder and allowed come-back man Shahid Afridi to unleash a game-transforming all-round performance to lead Pakistan to a 126-run win in their first ODI at the Guyana national stadium.

Holder delivered a searing new-ball spell of 8-4-8-4 as Pakistan keeled over at 47 for five before the flamboyant Afridi and the patient Misbah-ul-Haq, with contrasting half centuries, drove the visitors to 224 here Sunday, reports CMC.

Afridi, recalled after missing last month's Champions Trophy due to poor form, returned to claim career-best figures of seven for 12 and lead a bowling attack that flattened the West Indies batting as the homeside, who won the toss and opted to field, folded for 98 in 41 overs.

The West Indies' decision to pick Holder for Tino Best paid off in spectacular fashion as the young Bajan, playing only his fourth ODI, ripped through the new-look Pakistan line-up. The two top-order batsmen were bowled while attempting to leave the ball.

Holder got the ball to move away late and Ahmed Shehzad ended up inside-edging onto the stumps while Mohammad Hafeez also looked to let the ball go but the delivery darted in to take the off stump.

Holder then dismissed Nasir Jamshed lbw for 6 and Asad Shafiq went without opening his score to a superb diving catch from wicketkeeper Johnson Charles, leaving Pakistan at 23 for 4.

Pakistan lost three wickets for eight runs in a 10-over spell and were in trouble at 47 for five with the last two recognized batsmen at the wicket.

Afridi plundered 76 off 55 balls hitting six fours and five sixes while Misbah-ul-Haq compiled his innings slowly to score 52 as they sought to repair the damage caused by Holder.

Early into the chase, the West Indies were reduced to 7 for 3, the second lowest score for which they have lost three wickets in ODIs.

Mohammad Irfan's swinging low full toss removed Johnson Charles in the first over for a duck and Darren Bravo was caught down the leg side.

However, the biggest breakthrough came from a direct hit from Misbah at cover, catching Chris Gayle well short while attempting a single.

Afridi's innings-transforming performance continued with two wickets in two balls that all but wiped out West Indies' hopes.

Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons played cautiously, batting out 15 overs and scoring only 34 runs on a turning track as the run rate crept above six and their chances slowly evaporated.

Samuels top scored with 25 while Darren Sammy was not out on 21.

Afridi's mix of leg-spinners, quick sliders, the occasional googly and the odd off-break proved too much for West Indies' batsmen.

Pollard holed out to long-off for 3 and minutes later Samuels was lbw to a delivery that turned in.

Afridi, who was named match of the match, finished with unbelievable figures of 9-3-12-7.

The West Indies' poor batting performance was in front of a large turnout of spectators starved of international cricket for two years as a result of a conflict between the government and the cricket board.

--IANS/CMC

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