Late fireworks from Nicholas Pooran were not enough to salvage a wobbly West Indies run chase as experienced off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez stifled the home side’s batsmen with a thrifty spell, to propel Pakistan to a seven-run win in the second Twenty20 International.
Asked to chase a modest 158 at the Guyana National Stadium on Saturday, West Indies never found high gear despite left-hander Pooran’s career-best unbeaten 62 off 33 deliveries, and found themselves with too much to do at the back end, to fall 1-0 behind in the four-match series.
Hafeez’s four-over spell cost an astonishing six runs only and yielded a single wicket, leaving West Indies requiring 35 runs from the last 12 balls of the contest.
Pooran lashed two of his half-dozen sixes in the penultimate over from fast bowler Hasan Ali which leaked 15 runs and kept West Indies in with an outside chance, with 20 runs then required from the last over.
Left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi, 21, then held his nerve to restrict captain Kieron Pollard to a couple to mid-wicket off the first delivery before getting the Windies captain to slice a low full toss to wide long-off, to perish for 13.
Pooran then drilled two excellent full-length deliveries to long-off and opted against the single on both occasions, handing the visitors victory with an improbable 18 runs required from the last two balls.
Though the game was already gone, the 25-year-old finished off the game with a boundary to cover and a six-over point.
Pooran also hit four fours in the 33-ball knock while opener Evin Lewis struck 35 from 33 deliveries before retiring hurt in the 14th over at 76 for three.
“I thought they bowled well, they bowled wicket to wicket. They used the angles and they used the wicket a lot more,” Pollard said.
“Hafeez bowled four overs for six runs. If we look back at that, if we could’ve gotten a few more singles, a boundary here and there [things may have been different].”
Hafeez, in familiar conditions having represented Guyana Amazon Warriors here in the Caribbean Premier League, said Pakistan was always confident of defending the total.
“We put a score on the board and we knew the conditions would get a bit tougher for the batsmen to score against spinners,” he said.
“We executed our skills very well as a bowling unit.”
Captain Babar Azam had earlier top-scored with a typically stylish 51 off 40 deliveries while opener Mohammad Rizwan hammered 46 off 36 balls as Pakistan managed 157 for eight off their 20 overs.
Sent in, they appeared set for a total in excess of 180 when they coasted to 113 for one in the 15th over but fast bowler Jason Holder snatched four for 26 from his four overs to stall the innings.
Rizwan, who belted two fours and sixes, put on 46 for the first wicket with Sharjeel Khan (20) before adding a further 67 for the second wicket with Babar, who crunched four fours and two sixes.
But once Rizwan perished via the run-out route in the 15th over, Pakistan lost the next seven wickets for 44 runs off 34 balls, with veteran medium-pacer Dwayne Bravo chipping in with two for 24.
In reply, Andre Fletcher was bowled off the second ball of the innings without a run on the board, playing down the wrong line to Hafeez and Chris Gayle’s malaise continued when he was bowled by Hasan Ali in the sixth over, after scraping 16 from 20 balls.
Lewis, who hit two fours and two sixes, put on 39 for the third wicket with Shimron Hetmyer (17) but both found scoring difficult, and the required run-rate climbed to nearly 10-½ per over.
Hetmyer was comprehensively bowled by pacer Mohammad Wasim in the 11th over trying to force the pace and West Indies then went without a boundary for the next 13 deliveries, before Lewis was forced off with an injury.
Pooran and Pollard combined to extend the fourth wicket partnership to 70 but even then, Pakistan still controlled the game.