Hafeez and Babar set up Pakistan’s win as Pooran’s effort wasted

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Hafeez’s four-over spell at an economy of 1.50 earned him the Player-of-the-Match award

Nicholas Pooran made his top T20I score of 62 runs off 33 balls, but with no support from other teammates. The hosts, chasing 158, went down by seven runs against Pakistan in the second T20I in Guyana.

West Indies were strangled by Professor’s accurate off-breaks and Shadab Khan’s mix of leg-breaks and googlies. The loss of regular wickets kept them behind in the chase. Hafeez’s four-over spell at an economy of 1.50 earned him the Player-of-the-Match award.

Babar, the top scorer from Pakistan’s side, scored a 40-ball 51 that helped Pakistan. With Rizwan, who made a 36-ball 46, Babar put on a 67-run second-wicket partnership. It set the tone for Pakistan to post a total well beyond the 157 they eventually achieved. But Jason Holder – four-wicket haul – and Dwayne Bravo kept taking wickets in the death overs to keep the visitors’ quiet.

With Sharjeel Khan falling for a promising 16-ball 20, it was well inside the powerplay. That Pakistan’s two most prolific batters of the last year got together. Initially, Azam was the slower one as Rizwan punished Akeal Hosein and Bravo.

All this while, Rizwan was content dabbing the ball for ones and twos while Azam changed gears. But, in the 15th over, Rizwan fell victim to a direct-hit four runs short of a ninth T20I fifty. In the following over, Azam hit Shepherd for six to reach his fifty in 38 balls. A rain interruption followed soon after.

After rain Pakistan returned 134 for 2 with four overs remaining, they were up to get a good total. But Azam fell right then, out caught behind in a controversial decision.

Bravo then picked up Hafeez and Fakhar, followed by Holder removing Hasan and Sohaib. Eventually, Pakistan added just 23 in their last 24 balls to reach 157.

With right-hander Andre Fletcher taking strike in the chase, it was Hafeez’s spin that kicked off the proceedings. He struck the second ball when Fletcher looked to defend a delivery that he had expected would turn in, leaving the channel outside off vacant. The ball zipped through, and knocked the off-stump back, making his return to the XI – in place of the injured Lendl Simmons – somewhat underwhelming.

That spin would be a dominant factor in the chase, and Hafeez would continue to bowl in the powerplay against the two left-handers Evin Lewis and No. 3 Chris Gayle, which was established early. Hafeez was mostly full on off and middle stump, and with the assistance of some sharp work from the infielders, he eked out 13 dot balls in his first spell of three overs where he conceded just five runs, including one maiden.

Later, when Pooran came in as the new batsman in the 12th over, Hafeez was brought back against the left-hander, where he kept the pressure up with five dots and one single. In all, his four-over spell went for only six runs and earned him a wicket – his most economical T20I spell ever.

Fletcher and Gayle fall without making much impact in a 31-run powerplay, Lewis took the conservative route early on. When Usman Qadir in his spell, Lewis went for the slog sweep for six that helped break his shackles. Soon after, Lewis and in Shimron Hetmyer’s company, it seemed that the asking rate – that was starting to touch ten.

However, Hetmyer was struggling with his timing, and scoring at a strike rate of just around 100. He had to join Lewis in finding those big shots and lost his middle stump trying to hit Wasim over cow corner, out for an 18-ball 17.

With Pooran at No. 5, only starting to get his eyes in, West Indies suffered another setback as Lewis was grounded by a stomach cramp on 35, and had to leave the field retired hurt with the equation reading 82 required off 36.

Pollard walked in as Lewis walked out, and the first thing he did with Pooran saw Shadab Khan’s final over out. After that, Pollard observed from the non-striker’s end as Pooran tore into a wayward 16th over that exposed the teenager’s inexperience.

More such overs were needed if West Indies were to swing the result in their favor. However, only one of the batters could make adequate contact between bat and ball. While Pooran smashed Hasan for three sixes in the 17th and 19th overs, and Shaheen Shah Afridi for back-to-back fours in the 18th.

The last of those sixes off Hasan brought up Pooran’s fifty, in 28 balls. But only 11 from Pollard’s first 12 balls meant West Indies needed 20 off the final six deliveries. Shaheen conceded just two of the first four and took Pollard’s wicket. That meant he had done enough to seal Pakistan’s victory. Though he got hit by Pooran for four and six off the game’s last two deliveries.

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