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Babar, Imam, Nawaz help Pakistan to a 120-run win against West Indies

Imam-ul-Haq struck a run-a-ball 72 while Babar Azam scored a 93-ball 77 as Pakistan posted a par score of 275/8 in 50 overs electing to bat first at the Multan Cricket Stadium here on Friday.

IANS | New Delhi |

Spinner Mohmmad Nawaz claimed 4/19 and pacer Mohammad Wasim bagged 3/34 after Imam-ul-Haq and skipper Babar Azam posted half-centu8ries as Pakistan thrashed West Indies by 120 runs in the second Day-Night One-day International here to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Imam-ul-Haq struck a run-a-ball 72 while Babar Azam scored a 93-ball 77 as Pakistan posted a par score of 275/8 in 50 overs electing to bat first at the Multan Cricket Stadium here on Friday.

In response, West Indies were skittled out for 155 in just 32.2 overs as left-arm spinner Nawaz and Wasim wreaked havoc with their middle and lower order after Shaheen Shah Afridi had struck the first blow on the last ball of the opening over by sending back opener Shai Hope for four. Shai Hope had struck a century in the previous match and helped West Indies reach a big score.

Kyle Mayers (33) and Shamarh Brooks raised 67 runs for the second wicket to resurrect the innings but Wasim castled him trying to hit across the line, ending his 25-ball stay for 33 that included four boundaries and two sixes.

The wicket on the last ball of the 10th over and the departure of Brandon King (0), bowled by Nawaz, who made one snake past the outside edge to hit the top of the off-stump, in the next over really set West Indies back.

Brooks and skipper Nicholas Pooran raised 30 runs for the fourth wicket but once Brooks, their top-scorer with 42 runs, was sent back by Nawaz, rapped on the pads while going for a sweep. The left-arm spinner followed it up with the wicket of Rovman Powell (10) and Pooran (25) in quick succession to end West Indies’ hopes of making a match of it.

Earlier, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman, for 17 with the score reading 25 but Imam and Babar ensured that there was no collapse as they took Pakistan to 145 before Imam-ul-Haq got out. Imam had struck a half-century (65) in the previous match also and helped Pakistan to a big total.

However, on Friday, he struck six fours in his run-a-ball 72 before getting involved in a horrible mix-up with his skipper. After pushing a length ball on the middle towards mid-wicket, Imam kept running towards the other end even as Babar stood with his back towards him. The ball had not got past the diving fielder and Shai Hope calmly picked it up and threw it to Pooran, who took off the bails.

Babar, who was going for a record-equalling fourth consecutive ODI century, was out for 77, caught and bowled by Akeal Hosein as he tried to play on the leg-side but top-edged instead. Babar was hoping to join Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara as the second batsman to score centuries in four consecutive matches.

He was out with the score 187/3 and Pakistan scampered to 275 with Shadab Khan and Khushdil Shah scoring 22 apiece and Shaheen Shah Afridi blasting a 6-ball 15 to boost the score.

But in the end, that proved enough as Pakistan clinched the ODI series. The match was crucial for both sides with ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League points and automatic 2023 CWC qualification spots on the line.

Pakistan sit awkwardly in the seventh spot though, have a 7-6 winning record in the competition to date, while the Windies are on fourth, though with just five matches left in the competition.

A finish outside the top eight would mean a path via next year’s World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, a road taken by the West Indies for the 2019 campaign.

(Inputs from IANS)