Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat first and his decision was vindicated as the hosts put runs on the board in their 20 overs.
Batting stalwart Babar Azam led the way for Pakistan with a sublime unbeaten 97 as they crossed the 200-run mark for the second day in a row. West Indies were bowled out for 123 as Pakistan won the match by 82 runs and took a 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Here, we analyse the performance of the Pakistan star in depth.
RUNS SCORED: 97
BALLS FACED: 58
Coming in to bat in the second over at the fall of Fakhar Zaman’s wicket, Azam took no time settling in as he toyed with the West Indies attack. The right-handed batsman formed a 119-run second wicket stand with Hussain Talat and remained unbeaten as he fell short of a maiden T20I ton by just three runs. He looked at ease throughout his stay, finding boundaries at will to fire Pakistan to their highest T20 score.
Unlike the first T20I where he threw away a good start, Azam made the most of an inexperienced West Indies bowling line-up. He found boundaries at regular intervals and rotated the strike effectively to keep Pakistan’s run-rate hovering around 10.
I’ve said this before, will reiterate, Babar Azam is a special batsman. Doesn’t go big unnecessarily, plays those traditional shots but plays with balance.
— Roha Nadeem (@RohaNadym) April 2, 2018
The 23-year-old hardly put a foot wrong in his innings, looking at home as the runs continued to flow off his bat. The only gripe, if any, is Azam was unable to get four runs off the last two deliveries of the innings to complete what would have been a glorious century.
GETS INTO HIS ZONE EARLY
The Pakistan man got into the groove early in his innings as he targeted Rayad Emrit in the fourth over of the day. He crashed three of the initial four deliveries to the boundary fence, setting the tone for both him and Pakistan.
Azam had raced away to 78 with a six off medium-pacer Kesrick Williams. The very next ball, he top edged a low full toss in perhaps his only false shot of the day. However, he was given a reprieve as Samuel Badree made a mess of the chance at square-leg.
MISSES TON BY A WHISKER
Going into the final over batting on 89, Azam moved into the nineties with a double off the first delivering before finding the fence off the next one. He could only find a single in the third delivery but Shoaib Malik made sure to get him back on strike for the penultimate delivery. With four runs to get off two balls for a dream century, Azam could only make one with the Karachi crowd up on its feet in anticipation.
— Rai M. Azlan (@Mussanaf) April 2, 2018
VERDICT – 9.5/10
This was an innings unlike any other we have previously seen from the Pakistan batsman in T20 cricket. He found his range instantly and then gave no respite to the bowlers for almost 18 overs of the match. A century would have been the icing on the cake for the batsman but take nothing away, it was one of the best innings by a Pakistan batsman in T20 cricket.
Babar Azam 53.15 is highest batting average in T20I!!
— Farhan Nisar (@farhanwrites) April 2, 2018
Pakistan, the world’s top-ranked T20 side, equalled their highest total in the format of 203-5 in 20 overs before bowling the West Indies out for their lowest-ever T20 total – 60 runs – in 13.4 overs.
The West Indies, missing their regular skipper Carlos Brathwaite and stars like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, could not handle Pakistan’s varied bowling attack.
Only Marlon Samuels (18), Rayad Emrit (11) and Keemo Paul (10) reached double figures.
Pakistan’s margin of victory is the second-biggest in T20s, behind Sri Lanka’s 172-run win over Kenya in Johannesburg in 2007.
Previously, the hosts’ biggest victory in T20s was a 102-run win against Bangladesh in Karachi in 2008, after scoring 203-5.
Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz and Shoaib Malik got two wickets each.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed praised his team’s performance in the series-opener.
“I think we were excellent today,” said Ahmed. “We have an important match tomorrow and with another win we can seal the series win.”
The West Indies’ new T20 skipper Jason Mohammad blamed the defeat on poor batting.
“It was a tough day. We did well with the ball till the last two overs. It was a good wicket, but our shot execution wasn’t good,” said Mohammad, who fell for nought.
The West Indies’ previous lowest T20 total was 79-7 against Zimbabwe at Port of Spain in 2010.
Debutant Hussain Talat top-scored for Pakistan with a 37-ball 41, hitting a six and two boundaries. He added 75 for the third wicket with Sarfraz, who scored a 22-ball 38 with a six and four boundaries.
Opener Fakhar Zaman hit a 24-ball 39, while Shoaib Malik played a fiery knock of 37 not out, facing 14 deliveries and hitting two sixes and four boundaries.
The charge helped Pakistan get 66 runs in the last five overs.
Despite this being the first international match in Karachi – Pakistan’s largest city – only 18,000 people watched the match in the 33,000-capacity stadium.
But those present were in a celebratory mood.
“It’s something we’ve been trying to prove, that it’s safe to play here,” said Zehra Kazmi, a housewife.
Aftab Khan, a student, said he was hoping for more top-level cricket on Pakistani soil.
“I can’t express my feelings in words so we welcome all the players from the international cricket,” he said.
“They should come to Pakistan and play… because Pakistan is a very peaceful country.”
The hosts won by a staggering 143 runs after being put in to bat first. Helped by Hussain Talat‘s 41-run knock, Pakistan posted 203-5 in their 20 overs before their bowling attack bundled out the West Indies for just 60 runs.
Here, we analyse the performance of the debutant Talat in Pakistan’s 143-run victory.
RUNS SCORED: 41
BALLS FACED: 37
Hussain was sent in at the crucial number three position in the batting-order and his innings got off to the worst possible start after a huge mix-up with Fakhar Zaman which resulted in a run-out. However, the youngster did not let that affect his confidence as he put in an accomplished batting performance. He looked like he belonged at the international stage.
— ARY Sports (@ARYSports_Web) April 1, 2018
After a nervous start, the right-handed batsman buckled down and did not let his concentration slip. He played some excellent cricketing shots including a mighty heave over long-on for six off Marlon Samuels. There is definitely some talent here, especially after seeing him grow more assured with each passing ball.
Was caught ball-watching early on which resulted in Zaman’s run-out. Could have been a little more adventurous in trying to up his strike-rate but it would have been even worse for him to throw his wicket away after running out a senior partner on debut. Ran himself out eventually in the end, showing that he has a lot to learn when it comes to running between the wickets.
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) April 1, 2018
With Zaman going great guns at the top for Pakistan after racing away to 39 off just 24 balls, disaster struck in the first over after power-play. Hussain dabbed the delivery towards point, resulting in Zaman taking off for a quick single. The debutant however, failed to notice his partner calling for the run after being caught ball-watching. Zaman tried to turn back mid-way from the pitch but it was too late.
It should have been a run but Hussain Talat is playing his first match for Pakistan so nerves would automatically be there #PAKvWI
— Nabeel Hashmi (@HashmeNabeel) April 1, 2018
TAKES ON PERMAUL
Hussain gave fellow debutant Veerasammy Permaul of the West Indies a harsh welcomes to international cricket. He took on the young left-arm spinner, smacking it straight past him for a boundary. That would be the end of Permaul’s debut as he was stretchered off with a twisted ankle.
The Pakistan batsman then went one further when Samuels took the ball to complete Permaul’s over, lifting him for a huge six over long-on.
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) April 1, 2018
RUNS HIMSELF OUT
In the 16th over of the Pakistan innings, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed smacked the ball towards mid-wicket and took off a single. In a rush to up the ante, Hussain came darting back for a second run when there was none and was sent back by his skipper. However, like Zaman, it was already too late.
The debutant gave glimpses of his potential in his 37-ball stay at the crease and bar the two run-outs, he looked largely at ease in international cricket. While his scoring-rate might not have been great, the left-hander’s 75-run third-wicket stand with Sarfraz set it up beautifully for Shoaib Mailk and Faheem Ashraf to give the finishing flourish to the innings.