KARACHI: For the second straight night Pakistan shattered records as the team posted their highest ever total 205-3 led by a masterful 97* by Babar Azam. In reply, the West Indies could only manage 123, as Pakistan won the contest by 82 runs, sealing the three-match series 2-0, ahead of Tuesday’s final encounter.
After winning the toss Sarfraz Ahmed opted to bat first, which was a natural decision after the record-equaling 203 the previous night. Over the course of the next 20 overs, the hosts would go on to improve their best ever T20I total.
Rayad Emrit removed Fakhar Zaman (6 off 6) in the second over, to herald what was the Husain Talat and Babar Azam show till the end of the 14th over, with the duo putting on 119 runs for the second wicket.
For Talat, it was the second straight productive innings in two matches, this time notching up a half-century (63 off 41) before eventually falling to Odean Smith with the score at 130-2. The all-rounder would follow it up with two wickets in the Windies chase in less than two overs.
Babar Azam carried the bat scoring 97* off 58 balls, with Asif Ali (14 off 8) and Shoaib Malik (17* off 7) playing late cameos to take the score to 205, having lost only three wickets.
In many ways the innings was similar to Pakistan’s showing with the bat on Sunday, but instead of a late Malik show, the hosts continued to pile up the runs throughout the 20 overs. Almost half of these were struck by Azam who hit 13 boundaries and a six as he narrowly missed out on the century.
In reply, Windies fared slightly better than yesterday, spearheaded by Chadwick Walton (40 off 29) up top.
Marlon Samuels (12 off 22), Jason Mohammed (15 off 18) and Dinesh Ramdin (21 off 20) but their pedestrian combined scoring rate meant that the asking rate kept climbing virtually from ball one.
Eventually, West Indies lost their last five wickets for 16 runs to be bundled out for 123 in the final over.
For Pakistan, Mohammed Amir was again amongst the wickets, taking 3/22 off his four overs to take his tally for the series to five. Shadab Khan and Talat took two wickets each, with Hasan Ali and Mohammed Nawaz picking one a piece to complete an all-round bowling performance, after the batting top order had set up the win.
By winning the match, Pakistan wrapped up the series, which would allow the management to bring in more youngsters for the third T20I. It is also the seventh street T20I series win for Pakistan, which means that they have consolidated their place atop the ICC T20 Team Rankings.
That Pakistan are dominating the series would be pleasing for the team management, but seeing the youngsters already settling in and making their mark would be especially heartening.
With more youngsters expected to come in for Tuesday’s match, the series would be another stepping stone for the future of Pakistan cricket, as the latest graduates of the Pakistan Super League.