Shehzad century steers Pakistan to victory
GROS ISLET, Saint Lucia: Opener Ahmed Shehzad struck his second one-day international hundred to anchor Pakistan to a confident seven-wicket victory over West Indies on Monday.
Shehzad hit seven fours and one six in his 102 from 148 balls as Pakistan successfully chased 221 for victory in the second ODI at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
Umar Akmal carried the visitors over the threshold with 12 balls remaining when he lofted a delivery from Dwayne Bravo to long-off for the final boundary of the match.
The result means that Pakistan take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series after winning the first game by eight wickets on Saturday at the same ground.
Pakistan have now won their last seven ODIs against West Indies, a sequence spread over the last four years.
“We made a plan at our team meeting and our guys stuck to it and that was good,” said Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.
“Shehzad is a very talented guy and he showed that he is capable of performing. He took his time, but chasing a small total, he could afford to do that and we won the game.
“I think our bowlers are doing a great job, and the fielding has improved because it is a very important area for us. Our batting has shown responsibility and we hope to maintain this discipline right throughout the series.”
The visitors’ spin bowling trio of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi had dominated on another docile pitch.
After Pakistan chose to field, West Indies were dismissed for 220 in their 50 overs – one less than the total they made in the first ODI.
Ajmal, Hafeez and Afridi shared six wickets for 102 runs in 30 overs between them, and only West Indies opener Lendl Simmons looked close to getting on top of them, leading the way with 51 from 48 balls, which included four fours and two sixes.
“We didn’t make use of the key moments in the match,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
“We could have tried to squeeze their batsmen more and when we batted we got a good start, but did not capitalise on it.
“The spinners continue to bog us down, and we could have got a lot more on the board. It seems that whatever approach we have taken, we seem only able to get the same kind of total on the board. We have a lot more work to do.”
Shehzad shared three successive half-century partnerships with Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq that put Pakistan firmly on course for their victory.
He glanced a delivery in the 44th over from Dwayne Bravo to deep fine leg for a single to reach his milestone from 143 balls.
“We tried to keep wickets in hand. It was not a huge total so I knew that I had to control my stroke-play and not get carried away,” said Shehzad.
He was fortunate on 30 when he came close to being run out after pulling a delivery from Bravo to mid-wicket and Hafeez turned down the chance of going for a single.
Sammy fired his throw from mid-wicket wide of the stumps and the opener was able to regain his ground.
By the time he became the second wicket for leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo in the 46th over, Pakistan required just 30 from the final 28 deliveries which came with little trouble.
The third and fourth matches of the series will be played on Thursday and Monday at Kensington Oval in Barbados, with the final game coming three days later at the Guyana National Stadium.