Jason Mohammed, pictured above, celebrates as he guided West Indies to a win against Pakistan in the first ODI in Guyana. Photo by WICB Media/Randy Brooks
By Ravi Madholall
Elegant middle-order batsman Jason Mohammed scored a responsible, unbeaten 91 to lead West Indies to a thrilling four-wicket win in the first of the three one-days on Friday at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.
The Trinidadian right-handed Mohammed struck three sixes and eleven fours as the hosts, in pursuit of their highest one-day successful chase, reached 309-6 with great excitement from 49 overs.
Mohammed and off-spinner Ashley Nurse, who left not out with a vital 34 also featured in a steady 48-run partnership. Kieran Powell supported with a noteworthy 61 while Evin Lewis weighed in with 47.
Leg-spinner and debutant Shadab Khan grabbed two wickets for 52 from nine overs and left-arm pacer Mohammed Amir also claiming two wickets conceding 59 runs from nine overs as well.
Earlier, Pakistan took first strike after the hosts called correctly at the toss and rallied to a challenging 308-6 at the expiration of the 50-overs.
Their innings gained tremendous momentum from the experienced batsman Mohammad Hafeez who slammed three sixes and five fours in his authoritative 88. Opener Ahmed Shehzad also produced a handsome innings with 67 and veteran Shoaib Malik fashioned another impressive half-century (53) and Kamram Akmal made 47.
Nurse supplemented a valuable all-round display by snaring four wickets for 62 runs from his allotted ten overs.
Meanwhile, West Indies skipper Jason Holder spoke enthusiastically at the post-match presentation stating is team will continue to do well in the next game which is slated for the same venue on Sunday.
He reckoned once everyone goes out there and play to the best of their abilities, victory shouldn’t be difficult. He mentioned about the pitch’s responsiveness and the way Nurse bowled, indicated the track is very much conducive for both the fast-men and slow-bowlers.
In contrast, Pakistan leader Ahmed Sarfraz was visibly disappointed but expressed strong optimism of making a come and ultimately squaring the series. He said it was a good total but gave credit to the way the hosts batted.
Intensity in the atmosphere at Providence as both Pakistan and West Indies are acutely eager and anxious to up their points ranking alluding to the fact that they can relegate to the Qualifiers stage in 2018. Their automatic qualification for the International Cricket Council mega event in 2019 is at stake once either side continues to lose points in this abbreviated version.
Pakistan played fantastically well in the preceding T20 four-match series winning 3-1 and would have been disillusioned to commence the 50-over campaign in such an inauspicious fashion particularly having accumulated a formidable 308 but the home team side replied in confident manner to entertainingly pull off the win in front a small but appreciative crowd.
Pakistan, no doubt, will be banking on their seasoned players to come to the fore again especially with the inform Hafeez and Malik in the batting department while seam bowlers Amir and Riaz can be dangerous as well.
Khan, who had a man-of-the-series award in the T20 series, will have longer spells and should be more demanding once call upon to perform the duty.
West Indies, with a greater sense now of dynamism and enthusiasm, should be better prepared both mentally and physically to churn out another good performance and lift the 50-over trophy.
They showed commendable character Friday with their main batsmen gathered useful and invaluable scores. Only Chadwick Walton missed out on the scoring falling cheaply for seven but should inspired to make an impression at the top of the lineup.
The absence by several West Indies star players wasn’t that profound as the young and talented players Chief of Selectors Courtney Brown relying on made the difference. The bowling will have to be more penetrative especially the spinners though.
Leg-spinner and local boy Devendra Bishoo would ask to be more consistent while his six overs for 36 runs and wicketless, can be factoring to be axing, but could still have success on a familiar pitch if he finds the right line and length.
The final match is fixed for Tuesday to culminate the one-day segment before they get cracking in three test matches staring April 21 at the world-renowned Sabina Park in Jamaica.