Stabroek News

Pooran career-best in vain as Pakistan complete clean sweep


(CMC) – Nicholas Pooran’s careerbest fifty pushed West Indies to a 200-plus total for only the third time in three years but Mohammed Rizwan and captain Babar Azam registered equally destructiv­e half-centuries of their own, as Pakistan pulled off a record run chase to make a clean sweep of the three-match Twenty20 Internatio­nal series yesterday.

Choosing to bat first at the National Stadium here, West Indies raced to 207 for three off their 20 overs with the left-handed Pooran sparkling with 64 off 37 deliveries – his fourth half-century in T20 Internatio­nals.

Shamarh Brooks, promoted to open, hammered 49 from 31 balls, while partner Brandon King punched 43 from 21 deliveries and left-hander Darren Bravo, 34 not out off 27 balls.

Needing to score at nearly 10-½ runs per over to achieve their highest-ever successful run chase, Rizwan and Babar made a demanding required run rate appear elementary, effortless­ly squeezing out their sixth hundred-run opening stand in T20 Internatio­nals as the hosts cantered to a seven-wicket win with seven balls to spare.

Rizwan, given out lbw to debutant left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie off the first ball of the innings but reprieved by DRS, smoked ten fours and three sixes in a superb 87 off 45 balls, in the process becoming the first batsman to pass 2000 T20 runs in a calendar year.

He was adjudged Man-of-theMatch and Man-of-the-Series for his 203 runs at an average of 67 in the series.

Babar, meanwhile, dropped behind by Pooran off Motie in the seventh over on 28, belted nine fours and two sixes in a typically stylish 53-ball outing, before Asif Ali finished off the run chase with a fiery seven-ball unbeaten 21.

“I felt like the last two overs [of our innings] we lost momentum there. Pakistan bowled really good so I must commend the bowlers at the back end. It felt like we were 20 runs short on this wicket here,” Pooran said afterwards.

Already down 2-0 in the series following defeats on Monday and Tuesday, West Indies rebounded nicely, Brooks putting on 66 off 36 deliveries for the first wicket with King and another 33 for the second with Pooran.

Brooks lashed seven fours and two sixes while King, coming off a maiden half-century in the last game, hit two fours and four sixes in his birthday knock before losing his off stump to 20-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Wasim (2-44) at the end of the sixth over.

Brooks counted two fours and four sixes before holing out to deep mid-wicket off seamer Shahnawaz Dahani in the 10th over but Pooran quickly took control of the innings.

Emerging from a quiet start, Pooran blasted two sixes in the 11th over off off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed to speed to his half-century off 31 balls, while putting on 93 for the fourth wicket with Bravo.

All told, he counted two fours and half-dozen sixes before finally perishing in the 18th over to a catch in the deep off Wasim.

Bravo struck three fours but never found the accelerati­on required at the back end, however, and only 13 runs came from the last two overs.

Any hopes the tourists harboured of avoiding a whitewash were then quickly erased as Rizwan and Babar mercilessl­y plundered the attack, taking 60 runs from the opening powerplay en route to posting 158 for the first wicket.

Rizwan’s 13th half-century and second of the series came in just 26 balls off the final ball of the 10th over with Pakistan on 98 without loss, and Babar raised his 25th fifty in the 12th over, to bounce back from two single digit scores in the series.

When Babar finally departed to a catch at long off in the 16th over off fast bowler Odean Smith, Rizwan put on a further 26 with Fakhar Zaman (12) before top-edging a full toss from left-arm seamer Dominic Drakes, to be caught by wicketkeep­er Pooran running around to a shortish fine leg.

At 184 for two in the 18th over, the result was already inevitable and Asif formalised it with a brace of fours and sixes to condemn West Indies to their seventh defeat in their last eight T20Is.

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