What’s the story?
Pakistan preserved a proud 26-year unbeaten ODI series record over West Indies with a come-from-behind victory in Guyana. After levelling the series thanks to a Babar Azam ton, Shoaib Malik cashed in with a century of his own as Pakistan eventually eased to a six-wicket triumph in the decider.
In case you didn’t know…
All three games of the ODI series were played at Providence Stadium in Georgetown, Guyana. Situated on the South American mainland, Guyana is home to former West Indian stalwart Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
The stadium first hosted an ODI during the 2007 World Cup and has become a regular fixture for West Indian cricket over the past couple of seasons. It’s also the ground where Lasith Malinga famously ripped through South Africa’s lower order, with a historic four wickets in four balls.
West Indies struggled throughout their innings to gain momentum, but Shai Hope and Jason Mohammed kept them in the contest after the notoriously fragile batting line-up saw them slip to 68 for 3. They never quite got the late impetus they needed, managing only 233 from their 50 overs.
But a nervy start from Pakistan’s batsmen saw them reduced to 36 for 3 in their chase, keeping the Caribbean side in the game. Kamran Akmal fell first delivery to pacer Shannon Gabriel, while Babar Azam and Ahmed Shehzad- who collided heavily while running between the wicket – scored just 3 and 16 respectively.
But as has so often happened, West Indies failed to make hey on their early promised, as Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez steadied the ship with a century partnership. The latter departed for 81, but captain Sarfraz Ahmed kept things under control, sticking around to the end with an unbeaten 24.
Malik finished things off in style, hitting a six off Jason Holder to record his ninth ODI hundred and the win.
Pakistan will next play a three-day warm-up game against a to-be-announced team starting on April 15, in preparation for the three-Test series which begins on April 25. The visitors will be hoping to regain the form which took them to number one in the Test rankings, as Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan get ready for their final matches in a Pakistan shirt.
Pakistan may have won the series, but it probably feels more like avoiding embarrassment after going a game behind against this listless West Indies side. Still, after a patch in the doldrums, coming back with two impressive wins was just what they needed to help rebuild some confidence. Old-handers Malik and Hafeez certainly rose to the occasion.
West Indies will look back on what was a missed opportunity – especially after knocking out the top order cheaply – but they lacked the discipline in games two and three that they showed in a commendable 300-plus chase first time out.
Sketchy batting proved costly, although fifties from wicket-keeper Hope and Mohammed would have been pleasing to see.