Pakistan Open Series With Comfortable Victory
Pakistan 222-2 (Misbah-ul-Haq 73no) beat
West Indies 221-6 (DM Bravo 67) by 8 wickets
First One-Day International, Saint Lucia
Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq all stroked half-centuries to guide Pakistan to a comfortable eight-wicket win over the West Indies in the first One-Day International in Saint Lucia.
After the home side had laboured to reach 221 for six from their 50 overs, Pakistan reached their victory target with more than eight overs to spare having performed excellently in all three disciplines.
Their only area of concern was the concession of three no balls and 17 wides - 11 of them from Wahab Riaz, who opened the bowling with Junaid Khan, allowing West Indian openers Devon Smith (24) and Lendl Simmons (17) to make a useful, if not trail-blazing start.
Things got tougher for the West Indies - much tougher - when the spinners were introduced as Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi tied the batsmen in knots and stifled their scoring options as well as taking wickets.
Smith fell caught behind off Ajmal, Simmons was trapped in front by Hafeez before Marlon Samuels' ODI comeback saw him run out for two by wicket-keeper Mohammad Salman on his debut.
Darren Bravo held the innings together with a patient knock of 67 in 109 balls and put on a useful partnership with Kirk Edwards (28) before he pushed for a non-existent second run - from a free hit, no less - and was run out.
Both Edwards and Dwayne Bravo (14) were then caught off the bowling of Riaz, who returned two for 62 and it took a cameo of 29 not out in 17 balls from captain Darren Sammy to haul the West Indies kicking and screaming past the 200-mark, and even then, their score of 221 never looked like being enough.
Hafeez, who would later be named as the man of the match, bowled beautifully having been introduced during the first ten overs to return one for 36, Ajmal had figures of one for 24, Afridi nought for 40 while Junaid also went wicketless but such was Pakistan's control in the field, only five bowlers needed to be used.
All-rounder Hammad Azam was not required to come and bowl and as Pakistan went on bat so impressively, he was't required later on - meaning he will become the subject of quiz questions down the line should he be unfortunate enough not to get another opportunity.
Leading Pakistan's charge when they came to chase down the runs was Hafeez, who took advantage of the West Indies' misguided approach of bowling short, pulling and cutting forcefully as he made his way to 54 in just 45 balls.
He had scored 20 runs before opening partner Ahmed Shehzad had got off the mark but Shehzad unfurled some classy drives as he contributed to a 68-run partnership with 22 before he was smartly stumped by the returning Carlton Baugh off the bowling of diminuitive leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.
Bishoo, who tormented Pakistan during the Twenty20 International, was easily the pick of the West Indian bowlers and he used a clever change of pace to deceive Hafeez and have him caught by Sammy at midwicket.
However, there was to be no collapse from Pakistan and that was as good as it got for the home side as an unbroken 134-run partnership between Shafiq and Misbah saw them home in the 42nd over.
Shafiq, who appears more at ease with international cricket with each passing innings, hit seven fours in making 61 not out in 76 deliveries while the experienced Misbah notched his 15th ODI half-century, closing on 73 in 90 balls with five fours and a six.
Bishoo was the only bowler to get through ten overs, returning two for 48 and so big was the effect spinners had on the game throughout, Sammy turned to Devon Smith for two overs of off-spin as he tried desperately to get his side back into the game.
The second game in the five-match series is at the same venue on 25th April.
© Cricket World 2011