Having lost the opening T20 match following a disappointing performance, West Indies had a great chance of squaring the series on Sunday. In spite of a late assault by Pakistan, they managed to restrict the visitors to a gettable score at Kingstown. All they needed was for their batsmen to get them off to a decent start. But, this is where West Indies have faltered throughout the series against Pakistan, in the ODIs as well as the first T20. It proved to be their undoing on Sunday as well and, as a result, Pakistan deservedly clinched the short T20 series too, to complete a successful tour.
Chris Gayle has been having a horrid home run, and his failure in the second T20 as well gave the Pakistani bowlers the much-needed boost as they looked the defend their small target. West Indies’ chase was in fact over even before it began. As mentioned earlier, they just needed one good partnership to see them through, but it just never came. Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons all fell for single figure scores, and even though West Indies’ late order fought back well, it was too late for the hosts to make an impact.
The Windies did make a smart move by promotion Sunil Narine up the order. The ploy worked as the mystery spinner was successful in unsettling the bowlers with some unconventional hitting. At the other end, skipper Dwayne Bravo did well to hold one end up while Kieron Pollard came up with some lustrous big hitting at the end. However, the damage done by Pakistan earlier in the innings proved to be rather significant in the context of the contest. The dismissal of Narine also came at an inopportune moment, which put West Indies on the back foot all over again.
The difference between Pakistan and West Indies was that while the hosts let opportunities slip, the visitors grabbed the ones that came their way. Following Ahmed Shehzad’s steady knock with the bat opening the innings, Pakistan seemed to be stumbling towards a poor total. But, while West Indies maintained the pressure throughout with some tight bowling, Umar Akmal undid a lot of their good work by going after the Windies bowling at the death. The quick runs that he got towards the end not only gave Pakistan a challenging total, but also swung the momentum in their favour at the halfway stage.
While bowling, Pakistan knew that their best chance of winning the game, and with it the series, would be if they got quick wickets at the top. They were aware that West Indies’ top-order was out of form, and capitalised on the same. Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi combined brilliantly to have West Indies four down in eight overs. Even when West Indies built a partnership after that, Pakistan kept things tight. Zulfiqar Babar and Saeed Ajmal ensured the pressure stayed on West Indies, grabbing wickets at key moments. In the end, only one side deserved to win the series.
--By A Cricket Analyst