|Scorecard:||West Indies v Pakistan, West Indies v Pakistan|
|Player:||Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan|
|Event:||Pakistan in West Indies 2004/05|
DateLine: 25th May 2005
Our team's consecutive victories in the two one-day internationals played at the picturesque island of St Lucia gave Pakistan a clean sweep in the three match series against the West Indies, the one-time mighty black storm of cricket. This is an event of historic importance.
By breaking the drought of Pakistan having never won a series in the Caribbean, the victory has provided immense pleasure to the cricket lovers in the country. The triumph is more significant because it has been achieved by a young team with limited calibre and a modest reputation.
However depleted the strength of the hosts may be, the overall performance of our boys in the three matches is evidence of their superiority over their rivals in all branches of the game. In addition, the vital ingredients of morale and fighting spirit were also superb. The boys were competently led by the acting skipper, Younis Khan, who used the bowling resources at his disposal in the most effective manner. The two distinctly visible features of improvement were good fielding and the bowlers having learnt to maintain the desired line and length.
Shahid Afridi, whose talent as an excellent all rounder could never be challenged, has proved his mettle by emerging as the most important member of the team. The previous Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) set-up jeopardized his valuable career by dropping him from the side and then by making him a rolling stone in the batting order. His ability as an effective spin bowler was never valued. He cannot possibly curb his natural instinct of playing high flying shots. These are the type of shots which provide the team quick runs and also get him out. Coach Bob Woolmer has only to teach him to hit the shots some distance away from the fielder. There is no one else in the team playing such a delightful game, especially from the spectators' point of view.
The opening stand is always important for building up the innings. With Shahid Afridi and Salman Butt opening the innings, the vacuum that existed has been almost filled. Not only does the team get a reasonable stand, the attack bowlers also lose their sting through the beating that they receive from Shahid Afridi, a factor extremely helpful for the batsmen who follow. Shoaib Malik can be counted as another suitable find for the one down slot. After coming out of the shadow of a 'doubtful bowling action', he will be able to show his full potential as a bowler thus playing a really effective role as an all rounder.
The second ODI of the series in which Pakistan posted a challenging total of 258 runs showed a definite improvement over the first one. Pakistan commenced their batting on a pitch that was basically slow but had a little grass to add some pace to it. Though Pakistan lost the opening pair of Shahid Afridi (12) and Salman Butt (16) with only 33 runs on the board, the batsmen who followed them compensated. Among them both skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik were conspicuous by scoring half centuries (51 each) while Younis Khan added a fighting 48 to build up the winning total.
Taking quick runs may be a part of one day cricket but taking risky runs is not. During the innings our batsmen displayed a tendency of taking risky runs which caused two important run outs. There is, however, no doubt that the Windies fielding was excellent, especially the throws directly hitting the stumps. Since our team had won the first ODI by dismissing the hosts for a paltry score of 133 runs, they were fully confident of not letting them come near the victory target of 259. The were able to dismiss the hosts for a mere 218 runs to clinch a comfortable victory by 40 runs.
Runako Morton was the top scorer with a fighting 56 while Chris Gayle (43) and Courtney Brown (36) followed him. It is sad that Shahid Afridi who brought victory to Pakistan by routing the West Indies with magical figures of four wickets for 38 runs, was not declared ‘Man of the Match’. The award was instead given to Shoaib Malik, whose innings of 51 was one of the three top scores of the Pakistan total.
By winning the second ODI Pakistan had clinched the series and were left with no worries for the third encounter the next day. Among the significant changes that Pakistan made to the side were Yasir Hameed replacing Salman Butt as opener and Bazid Khan taking over the one down slot. With Pakistan hitting a formidable total of 303 for 6 the changes had worked well. Out of the eight batsmen who took the crease, seven made it to double figures. As usual Shahid Afridi scored a breezy 56 in 30 balls, Yasir Hameed a useful 41 and Yousuf Youhana a fighting 50. Bazid Khan, who made his ODI debut in this match, emerged with the highest score of 66.
The Windies were able to drag their total to 281 before they collapsed to award Pakistan a victory by 22 runs. Chris Gayle, who was the most consistent of the Caribbean batsmen, worked hard to save the match by scoring a magnificent century (124), but failed in the end.
By breaking the Pakistan record of not clinching a victory on West Indies soil, this young team has done a marvelous job. As acting captain in two matches, Younis Khan has proved his ability to hold the mantle for the first Test. Test match cricket being a different game, let us hope our boys face the opponents with the same amount of confidence, determination and fighting spirit and not be afraid of Brian Lara's magical power.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only. This article is published courtesy of Daily Times
Copyright © 2005 Daily Times)