Azam, Malik inspire Pakistan’s series win


Pakistan 337 for 5 (Azam 123, Malik 90, Sarfraz 60*) beat West Indies 278 for 7 (Bravo 61, Samuels 57, Riaz 2-48) by 59 runs

2nd ODI: Azam, Malik propel Pakistan to 337

SHARJAH : Pakistan’s most and least experienced batsmen – Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam – combined to display the art of batting through the middle overs on a slow surface, and leave West Indies needing the highest chase in Sharjah to stay alive in the three-match series. Azam struck his second successive, risk-free ton and Malik hit a brisk 90 as their 169-run partnership, the highest for the third wicket for Pakistan against West Indies, powered the side to 337 for 5, the third highest total at the venue.
After opting to bat, Azhar Ali and opening partner Sharjeel Khan put West Indies under pressure from the outset. Sharjeel used the power in his bottom hand to go over the infield regualarly, collecting three fours and a six in his 12-ball 24.
In the space of three balls, Pakistan exhibited the amateurish cricket that has often got themselves in trouble. First, Azhar played around a full ball from Jason Holder and was trapped plumb in front. Yet, he chose to exhaust Pakistan’s only review even with the new DRS lbw protocol giving the bowlers a better chance. Sharjeel then lofted debutant Alzarri Joseph to mid-on in the next over to bring West Indies back.
Thereafter, Azam and Malik stalled West Indies’ bowlers with sound technique and calculated risk-taking. Azam went through the field and Malik went over, both equally effective in collecting frequent boundaries and keeping the score moving. Sulieman Benn’s introduction was delayed, but Malik capitalised on the bowler’s modus operandi of flight and loop from around the wicket. Malik struck five sixes of Benn – three in succession in the 27th over – by shimmying down, getting underneath the ball and clearing the boundary in the arc between long-on and midwicket. The period between overs 21 and 35 yielded 107 in conditions not suited to effortless run-scoring.
In between, Azam unfurled classy drives through cover and found gaps in the outfield to accrue his runs. After Malik carved one to point, Azam took the onus to utilise Pakistan’s strong platform. His 125-ball 123 included nine fours and a six, an indication of his strength in keeping his strike rate high through singles and twos. Neither Malik nor Azam offered even a “half-chance” until their dismissals.Pakistan captain Azhar Ali opted to bat after winning the toss in the second ODI of the series in Sharjah, reported .
Pakistan were off to a flying start as Azhar Ali was out plumb when he missed the ball completely while trying to play across the line on to the on side.
Sharjeel Khan followed Azhar Ali back to the pavilion after just three balls. Pakistan lost two wickets at the score of just 41.
TeamsPakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali
West Indies: Johnson Charles, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder (capt), Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Sulieman Benn, Alzarri Joseph