Shadab’s brilliance denies West Indies in low-scoring thriller

Pakistan 132 (Malik 28, Narine 3-22, Brathwaite 3-37) beat West Indies 129 for 8 (Samuels 44, Shadab 4-14) by three runs

In a nutshell
It’s becoming a bit of a jinx, this match-up. Whatever the situation, however favourable the circumstances, West Indies just cannot seem to get over the line against Pakistan. It was no different today as a thrilling final over from Hasan Ali that swung one way and then the other saw Pakistan cling on to a three-run win at the Queen’s Park Oval. It was a game they had no business laying claim to for much of a contest that was worlds removed from the cakewalk the visitors enjoyed in Barbados.

West Indies’ chase of 133 began with a somewhat clumsy run-out after a collision between Evin Lewis and Shadab Khan, but Marlon Samuels looked in no mood to hang around as he took the attack to Pakistan’s bowlers. Imad Wasim came in for particularly severe treatment as one over went for 19. Only a magical spell from legspinner Shadab Khan dragged Pakistan back into the game, crucially dismissing Samuels with the last ball. From thereon, it was always going to be close, and even though two boundaries in the final over looked to have put the West Indies on course, Hasan held his nerve to maintain Pakistan’s grip over their hosts.

West Indies will rue a particularly wretched fielding performance, with several balls going through fielders’ legs and plenty more fumbled. It detracted from an organised bowling display that had Pakistan on the back foot from the start, with Samuel Badree dismissing Kamran Akmal for a duck in the first over. No batsman could build on a start, and at one point it looked like the visitors might even fail to reach three figures as they slid to 95 for 8. Late blows from Shadab and Wahab Riaz then ensured they would have just enough to bowl at.

Where the game was won
West Indies were their own worst enemy at times, with sloppy fielding gifting Pakistan at least 15 runs. But what they might really rue is giving Pakistan the opportunity to bowl at a competitive total after reducing them to 95 for 8. Shadab and Wahab each played vital cameos in a 36-run stand off just 19 balls. It took Pakistan to 132, a total that had looked ambitious for much of the innings as their batsmen struggled to get any sort of momentum.

The men who won it
Shadab appears to outdo himself every time he steps onto the field, each game replacing the preceding one as the highlight of his career. Tonight, his effort was a legspin masterclass, with the teenager at times the only person standing between West Indies and victory. No batsman could pick his variations, with a pair falling to the legbreak, and two more dismissed after failing to read the googly.

His final over to Marlon Samuels was T20 cricket at its nuanced best. Samuels recognised all he needed to do was see out the over, while nothing less than his wicket would do for Pakistan. It appeared the West Indian had succeeded, before Shadab deceived him off the last ball of his spell with a devilish wrong’un. Samuels could merely edge it to the wicketkeeper, and from that point on, the match began to slip away from the hosts.

Moment of the match
The first four overs of the West Indies innings were ungainly, with batsmen and fielders unable to help themselves colliding into each other; no less than three times did players come together. The first, between Lewis and Shadab, resulted in the batsman being run-out, but the final one was altogether nastier. Samuels defended to point and scampered off for a quick single. Ahmed Shehzad ran in to effect a run out, and found himself in the path of Chadwick Walton. This resulted in a horrible collision, with Walton’s knee thumping into Shehzad’s upper back and neck, requiring an ambulance to come out on the field and stretcher Shehzad off. It looked worse, but the Pakistan opener was back on the field a few overs later.

Where they stand
Pakistan now cannot lose the four-match series, having taken a 2-0 lead. The third T20I will be played on April 1, at the same venue.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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