ST.LUCIA - Unlike the island on which this match was played - St Lucia - the cricket was not arresting at the Beausejour Stadium. The stands were sparsely populated, the outfield patchy and the West Indian batsmen once again failed to combat Pakistan's spinners, their ineptness at reading variations making the contest a mismatch. Pursuing a middling target, Pakistan's only fault was their crawl in the first half of their chase, raising fleeting hopes of a competitive finish. Ahmed Shehzad prevented any such thing, his century securing a seven-wicket victory and a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. For the briefest of whiles West Indies, spurred by Lendl Simmons, were making a more spirited effort in this game compared to their struggle in the first. Simmons, however, had no support as his team-mates either flickered and perished, or struggled to rotate the strike. Pakistan stacked up dot balls as Simmons looked on, and his dismissal for 51 was the beginning of the unraveling of the West Indian challenge. Eight of their first nine batsmen made it to double figures, but only three got past 20.
Pakistan's first break was a fortunate one. Devon Smith was struck on the pad outside off stump by Hafeez while playing off the back foot but umpire Asoka de Silva thought otherwise. While Simmons was batting with Darren Bravo, though, the signs were promising for West Indies. They were 53 for 1 after the mandatory Powerplay.
Ajmal had bowled without deserved reward in the first one-dayer. He had teased and beaten Darren Bravo in that game. There was none of that today. Ajmal pitched his first ball just outside leg and spun it across the left-hander. Darren Bravo attempted to cut, and edged to first slip.
Marlon Samuels then dragged West Indies into the mire. The run-rate plummeted after he entered, as only 14 runs came off the bowling Powerplay. Simmons tried to counter by launching Shahid Afridi out of the ground over midwicket and then charging and hitting Junaid Khan for a straight six. Samuels, however, had scored only 3 off 36 and Simmons felt the need to attack some more. Soon after reaching his half-century, Simmons drove Afridi to short cover, where Umar Akmal parried the ball above his head and caught the rebound.
It became imperative that Samuels improve his strike-rate but he became Hammad Azam's first ODI wicket, bowled for 29 off 74 balls. Of the threatening batsmen, only Dwayne Bravo remained, but he soon perished to Wahab Riaz, charging and slogging a wide ball towards deep cover. West Indies eventually reached 220, though at Dwayne Bravo's dismissal - 148 for 6 in the 34th over - it didn't look like they'd last 50 overs. Pakistan reached the target with only 12 balls to spare but they were never in any realistic strife. Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez took their time, seeing of the Kemar Roach threat and settling in at leisure against the rest of the West Indian attack. The outcome was an uneventful passage of play that lacked shots and appeals but had an abundance of defence.
Roach hustled with the new ball, beating the bat several times and providing no space for stroke play. West Indies could have done with a similar bowler at the other end, but Jerome Taylor was in India, making his IPL 2011 debut for Pune Warriors. Instead they had Darren Sammy, who was flicked and cut for consecutive boundaries in his first over by Shehzad. Sammy wasn't loose, but he just didn't have the weapons to threaten batsmen with.
Pakistan had scored only 35 after the mandatory Powerplay and Hafeez soon raised the pace, jumping out in the 13th over to cart Sammy over long-on and pulling the next ball for four. The next boundary came only in the 31st.
Legspinners Devendra Bishoo and Anthony Martin, who was making his debut, pulled Pakistan's run-rate back. Bishoo even provided the breakthrough, inducing Hafeez to cut in the air to point, and snapped the opening stand on 66 in the 19th over.
Shehzad didn't waste his start, though, and continued anchoring Pakistan's innings. He got to his fifty off 94 balls and his century off 143. Only after he was dismissed in the 46th over did the asking-rate inch over a run a ball. Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal then struck a flurry of boundaries to secure the victory.–Agencies