C and W International Limited Over SeriesC and W International Limited Over Series

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19 Apr 2000 (Col (Retd) Rafi Nasim)

Pakistan Achieves Prolific Victory

The real battle for the Cable & Wireless Trophy 2000. Commenced with the first final at the picturesque Kensington Oval in the presence of an impressive crowd of about 15000. As usual, the pitch was again prepared to help the batsmen. This is perhaps an important element to keep the spectators interest alive.

After winning the toss, Pakistan opted to bat and opened the innings with Shahid Afridi and Imran Nazir. The start was brilliant in the shape of runs because the two openers were able to hit a couple of fours and a sparkling six. But in essence it was irresponsible batting that cost Pakistan 2 early wickets, only for 32 runs on the board.

As usual, it was again the giant killer Inzamam-ul-Haq who brought some stability to Pakistan's batting. A significant feature of the inning was that with a hook shot off Nixon Mclean for a four, in the 13th over, the rolly polly Inzamam completed his 7000 runs in one day cricket, joining the galaxy of 10 distinguished players having crossed this landmark. It was again Inzamam, who with a jet speed cover drive off Mclean hoisted 50 of the Pakistan innings in the 17th over.

The accurate bowling and vigilantly pains-taking fielding by the West Indies restricted the Pakistan score considerably. Pakistan received the 3rd blow when Younis Khan was run out with the total at 81. It was a case of bad calling and lack of understanding between him and Inzamam. The Pakistan team playing under tremendous pressure, the wickets start falling after regular intervals.

Except for Inzamam who was holding the fort valiantly, the other were just coming and going.

Pakistan was 100 for 4 and 101 for 5. On account of the West Indies brilliant bowling fielding combination, the batsmen were coming under pressure with every passing over. Inzamam who happened to be in perfect command, holding the fort with power and grit was out in the 39th over after playing a heroic knock of 66. This was his 3rd consecutive half-century in the tournament. With his departure, Pakistan was 137 for 6. Inzamam was not only the most enterprising but also the most consistent in the side. His ouster was thus a big blow for the team.

The recognized batsmen back to the pavillion, it was now for the tail enders to take the team to a level of respectability. They surely did it, but could not possibly muster a winning target. At 140 Pakistan lost the 7th wicket when Abdur Razzaq was run out, again through a mix-up. The 8th wicket fell at 144. It looked if the batsmen had decided to follow each other's trail.

The former Captain Wasim Akram and the leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed came together, to stem the rot. They played with unprecedented courage, not only collecting singles and twos but also hitting fours and an odd six when ever possible. With their un-shaken and bold stay at the wicket the two of them took the Pakistan score to 197 for 8 by close of the innings. Wasim Akram has played a very gallant innings of 42 not out in 36 balls while Mushtaq Ahmed was not out with a highly credible 11.

Pakistan thus ended up with a moderate total of 197. It now depended how much could they excell in their bowling and fielding to restrict the indomitable West Indies.

The West Indies opened the innings with Sherwin Campbell and Philo Wallace against Pakistan's top class pair of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Surprisingly the two bowlers were so accurate that the batsmen could take no liberties. They were only able to score 15 runs in the first 10 overs at the cost of one wicket. Philo Wallace who opened the innings with full confidence could score only 6 runs in 46 balls. In 20 overs, the West Indies who were otherwise a very enterprising side, had scored only 4, runs.

It was only in the 26th over that the first six of the winning was hit by Philo Wallace off Mushtaq Ahmed. The batsmen were cut loose and started scoring briskly. At one stage they looked like taking command of the game in their hands. By the end of 30 overs, the West Indies were 94 still for the loss of one wicket. It was the phase between 30-40 overs when the West Indies met with disaster. This phase was dominated by the Pakistani bowlers who literally ruled over the game.

The West Indies in an effort to achieve the target kept losing wickets one after the other. They were 99 for 2, 105 for 3, 121 for 4, 122 for 5 and 123 for 6. They lost 5 wicket with in a span of 24 runs. From the opening pair to the end of the middle order batting, all the recognized batsmen were back to the pavillion. Philo Wallace (47) and Wavell Hinds (35) were the only batsmen to defy the Pakistani bowlers with courage. By the end of 40 overs, the West Indies were 125 for 6 needing 73 runs in 61 balls, but no stalwarts for achieving the target.

The two batsmen at the crease Joseph and Rose being relatively new at the crease were easy for the Pakistani bowlers to tame. Since the onus of victory now rested with the tail enders, they had to accept the challenge. At this stage the West Indies needed 53 runs to win in 39 balls. Rose was clean bowled by Shahid Afridi rendering West Indies to 145 for 7.

Pakistan was now almost back in the game. The West Indies still had a chance but they lost the 8th wicket with the addition of only one run. Curtly Ambrose, Known for his capabilities for slogging came in to bat. With both the sides having victory in sight, it was a fierce battle between bat and the ball. The batsmen did their best to create panic among the fielders by hitting in every direction but the bowlers did not lose courage. Shahid Afridi bowled Joseph for a valuable score of 28. With West Indies now 175 for 9, they almost lost the hope to win. They were eventually all out for 180. Pakistan won the 1st final by 17 funs.

Although the West Indies fought till the last, it was the Pakistan's day. The credit must be given to all the bowlers, for keeping the West Indies in check, and especially to Shahid Afridi and Wasim Akram for being the instruments for this prolific victory. Moin Khan's handling of the team in a crisis situation was admirable.