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National

April 2, 2018

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Karachi celebrates return of international cricket: Pakistan hammer West Indies in first T20

KARACHI: Pakistan celebrated the return of international cricket to their largest city as they toyed with an under-strength West Indies team on their way to a record-breaking 143-run triumph in the first Twenty20 International at the National Stadium Sunday night.

Thousands of jubilant fans cheered as Pakistan first scored their highest total – 203-5 – and then bowled the West Indians out for just 60 – the lowest score by a Test-playing nation in T20Is - in 13.4 overs.

Depleted and jet-lagged, the West Indians faltered miserably in all departments of the game as they were just outclassed in what turned out to be one of the biggest mismatches in T20 Internationals. Only three of their batsmen - Marlon Samuels (18), Rayad Emrit (11) and Keemo Paul (10) – were able to enter the double figures.

On a wicket that held no demons, Pakistan’s bowling attack looked unplayable with six of the seven bowlers used ending up with wickets. Mohammad Amir (2-3), Shoaib Malik (2-13) and Mohammad Nawaz (2-16) did most of the damage.

West Indies’ captain Jason Mohammad hoped that his team will bounce back in the next two games. “It was a tough day. We did well with the ball till the last two overs (but) our batting was bad. It is a good wicket but our shot execution wasn’t good. We need to stay positive to come back strong. Try and do the basics right today,” he added. Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was visibly pleased with the big win.

“I think we were excellent. We want to play every game without relaxing. West Indies are a good team, and we’re certain they’ll come back strong today - so no relaxing despite the win,” he said.

The 143-run margin was the second biggest win in terms of runs in T20I history, just behind Sri Lanka’s 172-run triumph against Kenya in the ICC World Twenty20 championship in 2007. West Indies’ total of 60 is levelled with the previous lowest total in a T20I by a Test-playing nation. Before that New Zealand had succumbed to a similar total against Sri Lanka in Chittagong in 2014.

Earlier, Pakistan exploited perfect batting conditions to smash a depleted West Indies team for their joint highest total in Twenty20 Internationals. Put into bat first by West Indies’ skipper, Pakistan levelled their previous highest

score in T20Is thanks to some late innings’ fireworks from veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik.

There wasn’t even a single fifty in the Pakistani innings but solid knocks from debutant Hussain Talat (41), Fakhar Zaman (39), Sarfraz Ahmed (38) and Malik (37) made sure that the hosts overcame the 200-run hurdle.

A 46-run stand by openers Fakhar and Babar Azam (17) followed by a 76-run partnership for the third wicket between Sarfraz and Hussain placed Pakistan in a solid position before Malik and Faheem Ashraf smashed 44 runs off the last 12 balls. Malik scored his 37 from just 14 balls with four fours and two sixes.

This is only the fourth time that Pakistan have reached the 200-run mark in T20 Internationals. Their previous best (203) was against Bangladesh which was also recorded at Karachi’s National Stadium back in 2008. They scored 201 twice against Bangladesh and New Zealand. Their tally of four 200-plus totals is the lowest among top cricket-playing nations.

But Pakistan will have two more opportunities to achieve such totals as the West Indies’ team that arrived in Karachi just hours before the start of the series doesn’t seem to have the sort of bowling arsenal that can stop the flow of runs in batting-friendly conditions.

On Sunday night, Pakistan could have reached 225 or even more had they not lost two key wickets because of poor co-ordination between the batsmen.

Fakhar, who was in his element, seemed set for a big score after hammering the West Indians to all corners of the stadium. He had reached 39 from 24 balls in a whirlwind start, hitting six fours and a six. Just when he was getting started, Fakhar lost his wicket in a mix-up in the 8th over as he ran for a second run only to see debutant Hussain Talat failing to respond to his call.

Hussain, who was one of the success stories of the recently-concluded Pakistan Super League, lost his wicket in another mix-up eight overs later. Just when the youngster was looking set for a fifty on debut after racing to 41 from 37 balls, he was ran out. Sarfraz Ahmed hit Kesrick Williams to deep midwicket and Hussain thought there were two runs there. He turned back for the second but Sarfraz didn’t. The left-hander couldn’t believe his bad luck in his first ever international outing for Pakistan as he walked back. A man-of-the-match award that he received later must have cheered him up.

Apart from the two run-outs, there wasn’t much to smile about for the tourists. Debutant medium pacer Keemo Paul did bowl well in his four-over spell (1-26) but other West Indian bowlers were treated like schoolboys by the Pakistani batsmen.

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