Babar Azam (103) hit a fine century, while Imam-ul-Haq (65) and Mohammad Rizwan (59) both hit half-centuries to help Pakistan beat West Indies by five wickets in the first One-day International at the Multan Cricket Stadium here.
Azam was brilliant, and Imam-ul-Haq kept him company as they scored 103 runs for the second wicket. He then added 108 runs for the third wicket with Rizwan before Khushdil Shah (41 not out off 23 balls) sealed victory with a late cameo as Pakistan eluded Shai Hope and the West Indies.
Hope scored 127 to help West Indies reach 305/8 in 50 overs, but with Babar and his boys standing tall, Pakistan won the first match of the series in 42.9 overs.
Babar Azam has continued to make a mockery of opposition bowlers, and the Pakistan captain was at it again on Wednesday night, helping himself to another ODI century.
It was Babar’s third century in a row, and it also made him the first player in ODI history to score three consecutive centuries on two separate occasions, according to a report on the ICC’s official website.
Babar’s innings also saw him become the quickest player to 17 ODI centuries and the quickest captain to 1,000 ODI runs. His 103 came off 107 balls and included nine fours.
The 27-year-old, who appears to be on the rise, has recently set a goal of becoming the first player to be ranked No. 1 in all three formats of the game.
West Indies opener Shai Hope scored his 12th ODI century with a stylish 127, helping the Caribbean side post a highly competitive score of 305/8 in Multan.
While Hope’s innings is unlikely to receive the same amount of praise as Babar’s, it was a knock of similar calibre that laid the groundwork for the West Indies’ massive total.
During his 134-delivery stint, Hope smashed 15 fours and one massive six, with his 154-run stand with No. 3 Shamarh Brooks being a particular highlight.
When Babar and Mohammad Rizwan were dismissed in quick succession, it appeared that Pakistan’s run chase would be in vain, but finisher Khushdil Shah had other plans.
During the final stages of the chase, the left-hander smashed four sixes and scored an unbeaten 41 to ensure Pakistan took the series opener.
It was only Khushdil’s fifth ODI, but he is quickly establishing himself as a reliable closer after excelling in a similar role against Australia in March.
(Inputs from IANS)