Pakistan sweep T20I series against World T20 champions

A new day, a new venue, but nothing much changed as far as the outcome of the contest was concerned. Pakistan registered their third successive win of the Twenty20 International series against West Indies to complete a 3-0 whitewash on Tuesday (September 27). Much like the twin wins in Dubai, the hosts had little difficulty in overcoming the challenge at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

It has been a one-way traffic all through the series. Not only have Pakistan outplayed West Indies with bat and ball, but also been the better fielding side. It is not a pattern one would find too often when the two sides are playing.

Winning the toss, Sarfaraz Ahmed went in with the obvious decision of fielding – a trend that has caught up in the shortest format. With a dead-rubber at hand, both teams made a couple of changes to their side. Mohammed Amir and Rumman Raees came in for Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali, while West Indies left out Samuel Badree and Evin Lewis in favour of Kesrick Williams and Chadwick Walton.

The visitors were off to a steady start, with Andre Fletcher partnering Johnson Charles. But yet again, it was Imad Wasim, who wrecked havoc at the top of their order. In the third over of the innings, the left-arm spinner managed to send Charles and Walton back in the hut off successive deliveries. While the former allowed his stumps to be disturbed in a bid to attempt the slog sweep, the latter was undone by a ball that stayed low and crashed into his offstump.

The fall of two wickets in quick interval sent the West Indies in a harakiri yet again. Fletcher, in the fifth over, clipped the ball towards square leg and attempted a single. Realising that his partner hasn’t moved, he turned around. However, in the process, he slipped, giving the fielder enough time to take the bails off.

Dwayne Bravo, who has been the only West Indian batsmen to adapt well to the conditions, looked in good nick before he too was bowled by Wasim’s delivery that drifted in sharply after pitching. His wicket left the visitors reeling at 31 for 4 in the ninth over.

Nicholas Pooran played a few audacious strokes. However, one shot too many resulted in his downfall. After he sent a one-kneed slog off Mohammad Nawaz a few rows into the stands, he failed to pick up a shorter one as well and ended up holing out to Shoaib Malik at deep midwicket in the 13th over.

However, with Marlon Samuels having spent some time at the crease and Kieron Pollard in to give company, the tourists would’ve believed that they still had a chance to rake up a competitive total. However, the presence of an experienced duo in the middle didn’t help either. Both of them hung around till the last ball of the West Indian innings, but failed to score over a-run-a-ball.

In the last six overs, they failed to hit a single boundary as they put on an unbeaten 44-ball 37-run stand to take West Indies to 103 for 5 in their 20 overs. Sohail Tanvir and Amir put their skills to good use and adopted to bowling a line close to the body in the death overs. The batsmen looked to make room and hit ugly swipes, but not to much effect.

Pakistan had little difficulty in getting used to the pace. The opening pair of Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif worked the ball around gaps and were content with singles and twos – a method their counterparts had failed to use throughout the series. Even on Tuesday, Pollard and Samuels complicated their game by looking to muscle deliveries out of the the stadium. While they failed to put the balls away, they ended up conceding over 50 dot balls.

Williams, making his debut, struck twice in quick succession to make an even contest out of an otherwise one-sided clash. But the departure of the openers was the only success for West Indies. While Sharjeel poked at a delivery outside the offstump to the wicketkeeper, Latif was foxed by a slower delivery and bowled.

Malik and Babar Azam continued from where the openers had left. And just as the the match kept going out of the grasp of the visitors, the shoulders in the field dropped and the bowling became wayward. Boundaries were far and few, but Pakistan never looked uncomfortable in the chase of 104.

Malik sent the first ball of the 15th over sailing over long on for a six to seal the match in Pakistan’s favour. It was a fitting shot to define the authority with which the hosts had dominated the series. They won the third T20I by eight wickets and 29 balls to spare.

The Abu Dhabi track wasn’t expected to be as slow as the one in Dubai. However, some clever bowling by the Pakistanis proved to dent West Indies’ challenge. The team from Caribbean, much like they have so far on the tour of UAE, put up an uninspiring show – far from what was on display during the 2016 ICC World Twenty20. Was it the absence of their T20 regulars – Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell – or was it the sacking of their coach recently? One can’t say for sure. But something, was amiss.

Brief scores: West Indies 103/5 in 20 overs (Marlon Samuels 42*, Kieron Pollard 16*; Imad Wasim 3-21, Mohammad Nawaz 1-16) lost to Pakistan 108/2 in 15.1 overs (Shoaib Malik 43*, Babar Azam 27*; Kesrick Williams 2-15) by 8 wickets.

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