Pakistan 158-8 (Amin 47, Afridi 46) beat
West Indies 152-7 (Babar 3-23) by 2 wickets
First Twenty20 International, St Vincent
Debutant left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar was Pakistan’s unlikely batting star as they triumphed over the West Indies from the final ball of the opening T20 International at the picturesque Arnos Vale Ground in St Vincent.
With six needed from the final over and only the weak Pakistan tail for company following a moment of madness from Shahid Afridi, Babar hit the first ball for four, before struggling and then, with one needed, launching a Marlon Samuels full toss over his head for six.
It would be unfair to criticise Afridi, however, for one ill-judged shot that ended his innings when on 46 off 27 balls. Up until that point, he had been remarkably restrained in his strokeplay and helped Pakistan recover from the loss of Umar Amin that had left them 86 for five.
Amin himself, also on debut, had helped the tourists recover from the loss of both openers, Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad, within the first two overs. He displayed maturity and top-scored with 47 off only 34 balls as the West Indian spinners proved less effective than their Pakistani counterparts on a St Vincent pitch that offered appreciable turn throughout.
For the West Indies, it had been a case of if you bowl seam we’ll hit you, if you bowl spin we’ll struggle. Six overs of seam - three each from Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan - yielded 73 runs, while the other 14 overs, all bowled by spinners, returned figures of five for 74. All of which made the decision by Pakistan captain and off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez (2-4) to give himself just two overs all the more mystifying.
Babar, Pakistan’s second oldest ever debutant at 34 years of age, took three for 23 from his four overs and helped reduce the home side to 42 for four. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, though, began the recovery with a stand of 56, before Darren Sammy teamed up with Pollard to give the innings some much-needed runs and momentum. The pair added 54 runs from the final four overs, with Sammy hitting three sixes and ending on 30 off 14 balls and Pollard on 49 off 36.
The second and final match in the series is tomorrow, also in St Vincent.
© Cricket World 2013