MULTAN, Pakistan – Shai Hope’s 12th One-Day International hundred saw him become the joint third-fastest player to 4,000 runs in the format but the maestro Babar Azam rained on his parade, responding with another exceptional century to propel Pakistan to a five-wicket win in the series opener here Wednesday.
In stifling 44 degree Celsius heat at Multan Cricket Stadium, the right-handed Hope crafted a splendid 127 off 134 deliveries, a knock that inspired West Indies to 305 for eight off their 50 overs – their second 300-plus total in as many matches.
Shamarh Brooks produced a typically silky 70 off 83 balls while Rovman Powell (32) and Romario Shepherd (25) arrived late to strike telling blows, the Caribbean side managing to gather 87 runs from their last ten overs.
In reply, Babar took control of the run chase, stroking 103 off 107 deliveries to record his third straight ODI hundred following similar triple figure scores against Australia in his previous two innings.
The Pakistan captain has now scored four hundreds and a half-century in his last five ODI innings.
Imam-ul-Haq (65) and Mohammad Rizwan (59) lashed half-centuries but it was Man-of-the-Match Khushdil Shah’s unbeaten 41 off 23 balls which sealed the result for Pakistan with four balls to spare, after Pakistan found themselves in a spot of bother.
The hosts required six runs off the last over sent down by rookie pacer Jayden Seales and after missing a wild swing at the first ball, Mohammad Nawaz (six not out) clobbered the next delivery over the ropes at long on to finish the game in style.
“It was really hot today and obviously Pakistan is a world-class team. Babar obviously showing his class once more, Imam at the top of the innings and Khushdil coming in and playing a brilliant cameo for them,” captain Nicholas Pooran said.
“But I’m very proud of the guys, they gave it their all today. We could have been on the other (winning) side but that’s cricket.
“We tried to swing the ball up front but obviously there was no swing. We tried to assess, bowl more slower balls into the pitch.
“The wicket was behaving a bit and we thought we would’ve gotten more as the game prolonged but the wicket was really good in the night as well.”
Left-hander Kyle Mayers perished cheaply for three in the third over with the score on nine after West Indies chose to bat but Hope held the innings together with an innings which included 15 fours and one six.
Crucially, he put on 154 for the second wicket with Brooks who notched seven fours off 83 deliveries – his third score in excess of fifty in his last four innings – before adding a further 35 for the third wicket with Pooran (21).
Hope reached his half-century off 68 balls in the 24th over with a delightful drive to the long off boundary off left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-55) before reaching triple figures off 118 deliveries at the start of the 39th over with an equally ravishing drive to the cover boundary off pacer Hasan Ali.
With the hundred, the 28-year-old also pushed himself to fourth on the all-time West Indies list of century-makers, and is now only behind Chris Gayle (25), Brian Lara (19) and Desmond Haynes (17).
Brooks fell in the 31st over to a one-handed stunner at short third man by Shadab Khan and Hope followed in the 44th, bowled by pacer Haris Rauff (4-77) hitting out but Powell and Shepherd combined in a 41-run, sixth wicket stand to keep the innings going.
Needing to score at a shade over six runs per over, Pakistan were set back when Fakhar Zaman (11) mis-timed Seales to Brooks at cover in the seventh over with 26 on the board.
Babar then dashed any hopes of a West Indies victory by anchoring two successive century stands – 103 for the second wicket with Imam and another 108 for the third Rizwan.
The right-hander punched only nine fours, remaining unfazed even when the required run rate climbed above eight per over, as he reached his fifty off 59 balls at the start of the 26th over and his 17th hundred off 103 balls in the 41st over.
When he eventually top-edged a quick bouncer from Alzarri Joseph (2-55) and was taken at mid-wicket in the 42nd over and Rizwan followed 19 balls later, Pakistan still required 50 from 32 deliveries.
But Khushdil eased the tension, belting a four and four sixes in a swift innings which ended West Indies’ threat. CMC
+S Hope b Haris Rauf 127
K Mayers c & b Shaheen Shah Afridi 3
S Brooks c Shadab Khan b Mohammad Nawaz 70
N Pooran c Khushdil Shah b Haris Rauf 21
B King c & b Shadab Khan 4
R Powell c Mohammad Haris b Shaheen Shah Afridi 32
Ro Shepherd c Mohammad Nawaz b Haris Rauf 25
A Hosein c Hasan Ali b Haris Rauf 8
A Joseph not out 1
H Walsh not out 2
Extras (b5, lb2, w5) 12
TOTAL (8 wkts, 50 overs) 305
Did not bat: J Seales.
Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Mayers), 2-163 (Brooks), 3-198 (Pooran), 4-216 (King), 5-243 (Hope), 6-284 (Powell), 7-302 (Shepherd), 8-302 (Hosein)
Bowling: Shaheen Shah Afridi 10-1-55-2, Hasan Ali 10-0-68-0 (w3), Haris Rauf 10-0-77-4 (w2), Mohammad Nawaz 10-0-61-1, Shadab Khan 10-0-37-1.
Fakhar Zaman c Brooks b Seales 11
Imam-ul-Haq c Seales b Hosein 65
Babar Azam c Mayers b Joseph 103
+Mohammad Rizwan c wkp Pooran b Shepherd 59
Khushdil Shah not out 41
Shadab Khan c wkp Pooran b Joseph 6
Mohammad Nawaz not out 8
Extras (w13) 13
TOTAL (5 wkts, 49.2 overs) 306
Did not bat: Mohammad Haris, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf
Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Fakhar Zaman), 2-129 (Imam-ul-Haq), 3-237 (Babar Azam), 4-256 (Mohammad Rizwan), 5-284 (Shadab Khan)
Bowling: Seales 9.2-1-53-1 (w2), Shepherd 9-0-70-1 (w3), Joseph 10-0-55-2 (w4), Mayers 6-0-39-0 (w2), Hosein 10-0-50-1, Walsh 5-0-39-0 (w1).
Result: Pakistan won by five wickets.
Series: Pakistan lead three-match series 1-0.
Man-of-the-Match: Khushdil Shah.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: Ahsan Raza, Aleem Dar; TV – Rashid Riaz.