December 13, 2021

Pakistan draw first blood without sweating


By Ehsan Qureshi at National Stadium, Karachi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

As expected, the Pakistan juggernauts prevailed over the depleted West Indian side in the first of the three Twenty20 Internationals at the National Stadium, Karachi, on December 13 with as many as 63 runs separating two sides after a one-sided encounter.

The helplessness of the tourists was highlighted as they lost their last three wickets for as many runs to be bowled out for 137 in the penultimate over while chasing a mammoth target of 201 in the allotted 20 overs. 

With no luck coming their way, the writing was very much on the wall even before they had taken to the field. Odd moments of elation, not withstanding, they were comprehensively outplayed in every department of the game and the hosts didn’t have to sweat on a cold night of Karachi to draw the first blood. 

In the post-match presentation ceremony, the Pakistan skipper, Babar Azam, praised Muhammad Rizwan and Haider Ali for having played handy knocks while Muhammad Nawaz was lauded for finishing the innings in an outstanding manner. 

He praised the spinners for having bowled well and put the visitors under pressure. He disclosed that they will sit and discuss the combination to be played in the next game. 

The West Indian captain, Nicholas Pooran, felt that they gave away 20 runs more in the field and there were a few boundaries off the edges too. He loved the effort and energy from his guys, adding that they’re a young side but it all came down to execution. 

Haider Ali, who was adjudged Man of the Match, rated his innings 10 out of 10, acknowledging the support of Rizwan who kept advising him to build his innings. He conceded having gained lot of confidence from the way Rizwan was playing at the other end. The pitch, he reckoned, was a bit difficult and was helping spinners, that’s why they chose to take chances against fast bowlers. 

Thanks to the brilliant batting display of Rizwan and Haider, Pakistan managed to post a huge total of 200 for six in 20 overs despite having lost Babar, the premier batter, without scoring. 

Opener Rizwan extended his dazzling run in 2021 with another sparkling knock of 78, coming from 52 balls and containing 10 boundaries. He was looking set for a hundred but a running catch by debutant Odean Smith off Romario Shepherd at the boundary ended his superb innings. 

Haider, who came in at number four, was more fluent as he smashed 68 off only 39 balls with the help of four sixes and six fours. Together they added 105 runs for the third wicket off 63 balls. Pakistan's T20 World Cup hero Asif Ali made four-ball one and Iftikhar made seven but Nawaz blasted a quickfire unbeaten 30 in mere 10 balls studded with a couple of sixes and as many fours. 

Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, who operated with the new ball, was the pick of the visitors bowling attack. He gave away only 19 runs in his quota of four overs, claiming with prized sclap of Babar. All the other West Indian bowlers were put to sword as the home total reach the magical figure of 200. 

Quite predictably, the inexperienced West Indian batsmen were unable to come to terms with the home bowlers literally dictating terms and toying with the tourists, who seemed absolutely clueless against the Pakistan spinners in particular. 

Shai Hope, a highly gifted batsman, resisted briefly at top of the innings but he too was found wanting in changing complexion of the game. Even skipper Pooran didn’t produce the kind of fireworks that could have enlivened proceedings. 

It was all too easy for leg-spinner Shadab Khan to claim three wickets for only 17 runs. The 20-year-old speedster, Muhammad Wasim, also had a dream night, finishing with the career best figures of four for 40 as the match was won by the home side by the heaviest of margins in T20 Internationals.

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Cold welcome to international cricket in Karachi


By Ehsan Qureshi at National Stadium, Karachi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The functionaries of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) were baffled with extremely low turnout of spectators and the obvious lack of interest in the T20 series between Pakistan and the West Indies which got underway at the National Stadium, Karachi, on December 13. 

Despite massive security arrangements as international cricket resumed in Pakistan, there were hardly a few dozens of cricket enthusiasts to have reached the stadium to watch the first T20I which began after office hours, at 6 pm. 

One major reason of the ongoing series failing to attract the masses could be the absence of top players of West Indies specially power hitters like Keiron Pollard and André Russell besides other top performers. 

The most expensive tickets were being offered at Rs 4,000 for the VIP enclosure while the lowest ticket of Rs 200 was being sold for Rs 200. 

The PCB must have expected bigger turnouts for the white-ball series against the West Indies as the Pakistan team was on a high after sterling performances in the last T20 World Cup followed by an extremely successful tour of Bangladesh. The only consolation for the PCB, however, was the resumption of international cricket after New Zealand and England had refuse to fulfill their obligations earlier this season.

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