Spinners shine as Pakistan restrict West Indies to 220

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West Indies were bowled out for 220 in the second one-day international against Pakistan despite a half-century from Lendl Simmons. For the briefest of whiles West Indies were making a more spirited effort in this game compared to their struggle in the first ODI. Simmons, however, had no support as his team-mates either flickered and perished, or struggled to rotate the strike. Pakistan’s spinners, Saeed Ajmal in particular, stacked up dot balls as Simmons looked on, and his dismissal for 51 was the beginning of the unraveling of the West Indian innings.
Unlike the island in which the match is being played in – St Lucia – the cricket was unattractive at the Beausejour Stadium. The stands were sparsely populated, the outfield patchy and the home side’s batsmen were ill-equipped to combat Pakistan’s spin attack. Ajmal and his variations remained a mystery, Mohammad Hafeez took the new ball and was tight as usual, while Shahid Afridi hustled and hurried through the middle order. Eight of the first nine West Indian batsmen made it to double figures, but only three got past 20.
Pakistan’s first breakthrough was fortunate for Devon Smith had been struck on the pad outside off stump while he was playing a shot off the back foot. Umpire Asoka de Silva thought otherwise. While Simmons was batting with Darren Bravo, though, the signs were promising for West Indies. They were 53 for 1 after the mandatory Powerplay. Ajmal had bowled without deserved reward in the first ODI. He had teased and beaten Darren Bravo at will in that game. There was no teasing or beating today. Ajmal pitched his first ball just outside leg and spun it across the left-hander. Darren Bravo attempted to cut, and edged to first slip.
It was Marlon Samuels who dragged West Indies into mire and left them stuck there. The run-rate plummeted after he entered, as only 14 runs came off the bowling Powerplay. Simmons tried to counter by launching Afridi out of the ground over midwicket and then charging and hitting Junaid Khan for a straight six. Samuels, however, had scored 3 off 36 and Simmons felt he needed to attack more. Soon after reaching his half-century, Simmons drove Afridi fiercely towards short cover, where Umar Akmal parried it above his head and caught the rebound.
Kirk Edwards was the only one in the top eight not to each double figures. He was clueless against spin and inevitably Hafeez breached his defences. It was imperative that Samuels make up his strike-rate but he became Hammad Azam’s first ODI wicket, bowled for 29 off 74 balls. Only Dwayne Bravo stood between Pakistan and a middling target and he perished to Wahab Riaz, charging down and slogging a wide ball towards deep cover. For a batsman who can play with enviable Calypso flair, it was an ugly shot. West Indies eventually reached 220, though at Dwayne Bravo’s dismissal – 148 for 6 in the 34th over – it didn’t look like they’d last 50. One moment captured the lack of fight in their performance best.
In the 43rd over, Riaz bowled a no-ball at Kemar Roach. The next ball was a free-hit but Roach forgot, and defended the good-length delivery with a perfectly straight bat. Pakistan had chased a similar target in the first game, with eight wickets to spare.