To inject life into a contest that looked nothing but dead, it needed a herculean feat from one of the players out there. Jason Mohammed chose the stage that saw the fall of his other teammates and ensured that West Indies chased down a 300-plus total for the first time in their ODI history. Mohammed’s neck-break pace coupled with Nurse’s last moment blows knocked the wind out of Pakistan, as the hosts went on to bag a win by chasing 309 in the first of the three ODIs on Friday (April 7).
Chasing a 300-plus total, West Indies needed to get off to a strong start and the initial spark was provided by Evin Lewis, who struck back to back fours as early as in the second over. As has been the case on multiple occasions now for Pakistan, Mohammad Amir put his hand up before anybody else and drew first blood to remove Chadwick Walton, who drove it straight down the mid off fielder’s throat.
Kieran Powell, walking in at number three, replicated Mohammad Hafeez’s formula by taking his own time, without going hell for leather. With singles and regular boundaries coming through for the duo, the second-wicket stand climbed up to 68 runs and kept the Pakistan bowlers at bay. In a crucial juncture of play, the tourists employed two of their most accurate spin bowlers in Shoaib Malik and Hafeez, who conceded only 18 runs in six overs. In an exasperating move to end the lull, Lewis went after Hafeez to hit him for a six, and then get out the very next ball.
Powell was joined in by Shai Hope and together they kept piling on the runs, with the odd boundary here and the good, hard running between the wickets. With just four fours in his innings, Powell raised his fifty to keep the hosts afloat. But wickets in consecutive overs left everyone thinking that the game was lost. Powell chipped one straight to mid off before Shai Hope failed to get his foot back inside the line, to be out stumped. From 156 for 2 to 158 for 4, West Indies suffered a major slump but few knew that Jason Mohammed could toy with the Pakistan bowlers in the manner he did.
As the run rate kept growing and the first time that run rate had touched the ten an over mark in the game, Jason Mohammed went ballistic against poor Imad Wasim, taking him for two boundaries. And the carnage had just started, Mohammed hit two fours and a six in the next over, and every over started to resemble the previous.
There is always that ‘one’ moment which brings about the change in belief, and for the hosts, it came in the 44th over when Mohammed hit the nail on its head, striking Mohammad Amir for 17 runs in one over. After Amir was taken apart, the Pakistan camp looked dull despite Jonathan Carter and Jason Holder perishing, but hardly anything bothered the big-hitter who continued to go for the attack, as if to suggest ‘Enjoy till it lasts’.
Ashley Nurse, coming in to bat at number eight, played more than just a useful innings, collecting five boundaries and a six during his ultra-short 15-ball stay. Nurse’s unbeaten cameo of 34 runs to go with Mohammed’s unbeaten 91 sank the tourists, despite they being in a strong position for a longer part of the game.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s batting didn’t disappoint, especially the top three batsmen in the form of Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal and Hafeez. Despite the forecast for rain and some overcast condition overhead, the ball didn’t do much and on a wicket where the ball came on nicely, Kamran took the lead to dismantle the bowling attack.
While Shehzad and Hafeez added 64 runs to their second wicket partnership, the opening stand cost 85. Ashley Nurse ran through the middle order with four scalps to his credit but Shoaib Malik’s quickfire fifty lifted Pakistan again. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed picked up two boundaries towards the end to set a challenging target for the hosts.
Brief Scores:Pakistan 308/5 in 50 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 88, Ahmed Shehzad 67; Ashley Nurse 4-62) lost to West Indies 309/6 in 49 overs (Jason Mohammed 91*, Kieran Powell 61; Shadab Khan 2-52) by four wickets