Pakistan 275 for 8 (Babar 77, Imam 72, Hosein 3-52) beatWest Indies 155 (Brooks 42, Nawaz 4-19, Wasim 3-34) by 120 runs
West Indies’ innings began disastrously, with Shaheen Afridi removing their best batter Shai Hope in the first over, trapping him on his crease as he spooned a catch to cover. But what followed suggested West Indies were giving the chase a serious go, with the powerplay dominated by positive, fearless strokeplay from Kyle Mayers and Shamarh Brooks. Haris Rauf was the man they targeted early on, a gloriously nonchalant pulled six over square leg from Mayers perhaps the shot of the innings.
Mayers then smashed Mohammad Wasim for a couple of fours and Shaheen for six straight back over his head as the visitors put on 71 in the powerplay. But off that phase’s final ball, Wasim cleaned him up to open the door for Pakistan’s spinners, and it was time for Nawaz to shine.
Nawaz’s fourth ball was a harbinger of what would follow. He flighted it up to Brandon King, drawing him out of his crease before getting the ball to spin away and kiss the edge. The game had swung, despite a brief fourth-wicket stand, and Nawaz soon sent the last set batter, Brooks, on his way for 42, trapping him in front as he horribly miscued a sweep to leave them tottering at 102 for 4.
But Nawaz was only halfway through. West Indies’ last hopes, Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran were sent back within three balls of each other as Nawaz exercised his full mastery over the opposition, varying the flight and exploiting the dip and turn to penetrate both players’ defences.
Shadab Khan, at the other end, sent Romario Shepherd packing; by this time all realistic attempts at a chase were done. West Indies had lost four wickets for 18 runs, and while they limped along for another 35 runs, it was only a matter of time before they were put out of their misery.
Pakistan were fortunate enough to win the toss and not have to put their bowlers through another rigorous day out in the heat. Hasan Ali was finally taken out of the side, with Mohammad Wasim Jnr brought in. But at the top, it was a similar pattern for Pakistan, with a struggling Fakhar falling for an unconvincing 28-ball 17 as Pakistan made a slow start in the face of accurate West Indian bowling. It was Anderson Phillip, replacing Jayden Seales in the visitors’ XI, who got the wicket after Zaman top-edged one.
Babar and Imam took over from there, steadying the innings for the next fifty runs or so before slowly moving through the gears and nudging the run rate up. It was nothing dramatic, just the usual platform-building, but as so often happens when these two are on song, it looked like there was no breaking that stand. Each of them brought up half-centuries, the sixth consecutive fifties for each of them, and little appeared to stand in the way of them bringing up personal three-figure scores.
The only way a wicket would come about was if it were self-inflicted, and that indeed was what happened. In a moment that swung the momentum of the innings around, Imam set off for a run without looking up at his captain, who was busy ball-watching. When Babar looked up, Imam was barely two metres from him, and his fate was sealed. The opener smashed his bat into the turf in frustration while he walked off, but West Indies had been gifted a creek of hope.
Mohammad Haris came in and sought to inject some pace in the innings without ever looking like he had the ability to, in the face of a couple of quality West Indian bowlers, and promptly nicked off for a run-a-ball six. The final ten overs saw the West Indian bowling at their best, putting pressure on Pakistan with clumps of dot balls thanks to some glorious execution, both in terms of line and length and changes of pace. Alzarri Joseph led the way in that regard, his figures of 10-1-33-2 just rewards for what he produced.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000