MULTAN: Multan’s 14-year wait for the return of international cricket was rewarded with a record-breaking century by Babar Azam and Khushdil Shah’s whirlwind knock as Pakistan defeated the West Indies by five wickets in a last-over thrilling first ODI of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League on Wednesday.
After scoring 114 and 105 not out in the last two ODIs against Australia in Lahore on 31 March and 2 April, respectively, Babar Azam struck another signature 103 off 107 balls that turned out to be the cornerstone of Pakistan’s effort of overhauling the West Indies’ 305 for eight with just four balls remaining.
When Babar Azam struck his ninth boundary to reach the magical figures, he achieved three rare records.
The world No.1 became the first batter in the history of ODI cricket to record three consecutive centuries on two different occasions, completed the fastest 1,000 ODI runs as captain and became the quickest to 17 ODI centuries.
In September/October 2016, Babar had scored 120, 123 and 117 to become the third Pakistan batter after Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar and eighth overall to hit three successive centuries. In reaching 1,000 ODI runs in his 13th innings as captain, he eclipsed Virat Kohli’s record who had achieved this milestone in his 17th innings.
Babar’s 17th career century came in his 85th innings that bettered Hashim Amla’s record who had scored his 17th century in 98th innings.
Babar had joined Imam-ul-Haq at the score of 26 for one and added 103 runs for the second wicket with the left-hander who departed after scoring 65 off 71 balls with six fours. The Pakistan captain then put on 108 runs for the third wicket with Mohammad Rizwan, who contributed a 61-ball 59 with two fours and a six.
However, the dismissals of Babar and Rizwan in a span of 19 balls with 50 runs required off 32 balls created a bit of panic in the home team’s camp.
However, Khushdil Shah rose to the occasion and repeated his heroics in the second ODI against Australia by slapping four sixes (three off successive deliveries from Romario Shepherd) and a four in a 23-ball 41 not out. In the second ODI on 31 March, Khushdil had struck two fours and two sixes in a 17-ball 27 not out as Pakistan achieved the 349-run target with six balls to spare.
Earlier, Shai Hope stroked his 12th ODI century and put on 154 runs for the second wicket with Shamarh Brooks as the visitors collected 305 for eight in 50 overs after electing to bat first.
Hope scored 127 off 134 balls with 15 fours and a six, while Brooks’ 83-ball 70 contained seven fours. Cameos by Nicholas Pooran (21 off 16 balls with three sixes), Rovman Powell (32 off 23 balls with five fours) and Romario Shepherd 25 off 18 balls with two sixes) helped the visitors cross the 300-mark.
For Pakistan, Haris Rauf was the most successful and expensive bowler when he picked up four wickets conceding 77 runs. Shaheen Shah Afridi took two for 55, while Mohammad Nawaz picked up one wicket.
Shadab Khan, returning to ODI action after a long lay-off, was impressive with the ball – giving away 37 runs in his 10 overs and picking up a wicket. In addition to the caught and bowled, he took an athletic one-handed catch at short third man to dismiss a dangerous looking Brooks to end the second wicket partnership.
The second ODI will be played on Friday, while the third ODI will be held on Sunday.
Scores in brief:
Pakistan beat the West Indies by five wickets
West Indies 305-8, 50 overs (Shai Hope 127, Shamarh Brooks 70, Rovman Powell 32, Romario Shepherd 25, Nicholas Pooran 21; Haris Rauf 4-77, Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-55)
Pakistan 306-5, 49.2 overs (Babar Azam 103, Imam-ul-Haq 65, Mohammad Rizwan 59, Khushdil Shah 41 not out; Alzarri Joseph 2-55)
Player of the match – Khushdil Shah (Pakistan)
Match Report provided by PCB