Babar’s dream debut earns Pakistan victory
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (AP) — Little-known 34-year-old Zulfiqar Babar made a dream Twenty20 debut as Pakistan edged out West Indies by two wickets in the first international on Saturday.
Babar (3-23) chipped in with three crucial wickets with left-arm spin bowling in restricting West Indies to 152-7 and then with the scores leveled he clubbed a last ball flat six off Marlon Samuels to see Pakistan home to 158-8.
Mercurial Shahid Afridi had all but sealed the match by hitting a rapid 46 off 27 balls and another debutante Umar Amin cracked nine fours in his impressive 47 before Pakistan needed Babar’s heroics to finish off the game.
Kieron Pollard, who was off color in West Indies’ 3-1 defeat in the one-day series, top scored with unbeaten 49 off 36 balls and added a quickfire 53 off 24 balls with captain Darren Sammy (30).
The second match will be played at the same venue on Sunday.
“Really happy with the contributions of the two debutants, and then Mr. Afridi,” said Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez. “It was a tough chase, but the positive intent was there.”
Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals in its run-chase and were 33-3, but Amin batted with lot of maturity in scoring at a good pace by using his feet well against the spinners.
Legspinner Samuel Badree was surprisingly given the new ball and Amin hit the spinner for four boundaries in one over to negate the early loss of wickets before he lost his cool and was stumped in the 12th over.
Afridi batted with lot of maturity in company of lower order batsmen and in the process achieved the rare feat of completing 400 sixes in all the three formats of the games — tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20s.
West Indian debutante fast bowler Shannon Gabriel (3-44) was too expensive but gave a glimmer of hope when Afridi holed out in the deep in the penultimate over with Pakistan needing eight for victory.
However, Babar was well composed when he hit Marlon Samuels for a boundary off the first ball before cracking a straight six.
Earlier, after electing to bat first, West Indies lost Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles cheaply to Mohammad Hafeez’s offspin before Babar ran through the middle order with three wickets that included a super reflex catch off his own bowling to dismiss Samuels.
Pollard ensured West Indies get the competitive total by hitting four boundaries and two sixes and featured in two half century stands with Dwayne Bravo (25) and Sammy.
“We should have defended it, but we gave away too many runs in the power play,” Sammy said. “We don’t have much time and we have to come back tomorrow and level the series.”