WI find Pak pace too hot to handle

Cricket: Aamer, Gul scalp three each as Windies collapse to modest 133

For all the spirit and spunk the West Indies displayed in brief pockets, they just weren’t in the same league as Pakistan. All at sea against the three-pronged Pakistani pace attack in the opening Group A league tie of the Champions Trophy, a severely depleted Caribbean outfit collapsed to an embarrassing 47 for seven before Nikita Miller’s maiden half-century helped them salvage some pride by kicking on to 133 and making sure that the day-night contest wasn’t over long before the floodlights could be switched on.

Not without reason, though, do Pakistan carry the unenviable reputation of being self-destructors. In the 10 overs of play possible to the supper break, they allowed bustling paceman Gavin Tonge (2/15) to get on top of them, reaching 35 for two, needing another 99 runs for victory.

Pace it was that had done the trick in the afternoon as well after Floyd Reifer surprisingly opted to bat on a track with a little bit of initial life. Mohammad Aamer, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Umar Gul maximised assistance from the surface with a mixture of good old-fashioned line and length bowling and some mesmerising skills, virtues that completely exposed the frailties of the West Indian top-order.

Aamer (3/24) was the early wrecker with his accurate, incisive left-arm pace, taking a sharp return catch to dismiss Dale Richards in the first over and then accounting for Travis Dowlin, whose ambitious waft at a fullish delivery close to his body only elicited a feather to Kamran Akmal.

Disappointing crowd
In the interim, Rana forced the dangerous Andre Fletcher, capable of taking any attack apart, to drive on the up to point, and West Indies’ worst fears were unravelling in front of a disappointing crowd that struggled to touch the four-figure mark.

Devon Smith, the most experienced of the West Indian batsmen, was nicely set up and dismissed by Gul, triggering a rush of wickets that saw Pakistan pick up three for 14 in five deliveries. Gul, a master at bowling with a slightly older ball, was on a hat-trick when he got rid of Reifer and Chadwick Walton off successive deliveries, but Miller staved off the threat in style by square-driving his first ball to the boundary.

Between them, Darren Sammy and Miller orchestrated the first mini rescue act as Shahid Afridi brought himself on to bowl his leg-spin in his first match as Pakistan’s 50-over captain, and was promptly punished as he erred often in direction.

The absence of key men such as Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo has allowed the likes of Sammy and Dave Bernard to make their mark. Sammy batted with poise and confidence even as Miller applied himself nicely, when Afridi summoned Saeed Ajmal to the bowling crease.

Expansive drive
With a wonderfully flighted off-spinner that broke sharply on pitching, Ajmal defeated Sammy’s expansive drive to knock off-stump out and end a handy little stand of 38 (62b). Aware then that the end was nigh, Miller switched gears, deciding to take matters into his own hands and playing a couple of attractive shots of his own.

Three fours flowed in one Ajmal over as Tino Best soaked in the entertainment at the other end during a ninth-wicket association of 36 (38b), and a huge six over covers off Afridi hastened his march to his half-century before Miller fell in trying to play one stroke too many, caught in the deep to put an end to the entertainment.

Pakistan began most poorly as Tonge worked up good pace, knocking over Imran Nazir with his first delivery which the batsman played all around. Malik looked the part from the beginning, but Kamran Akmal was all at sea as he played and missed repeatedly outside the off-stump, and eventually managed to nick one from Tonge to wicket-keeper Chadwick Walton.

Tonge, all energy and infectious enthusiasm, should have had a third wicket before the break, but a diving Sammy at second slip could no more than parry Yousuf’s tentative prod at a lifter outside off as Pakistan went into the break with victory imminent.

score board
WEST INDIES
Richards c & b Aamer    1
(4b)
Fletcher c Nazir b Rana    7
(14b, 1x4)
Smith c U Akmal b Gul    18
(28b, 2x4)
Dowlin c K Akmal b Aamer    0
(2b)
Reifer c Misbah b Gul    7
(23b)
Bernard b Aamer    6
(14b, 1x4)
Sammy b Ajmal    25
(37b, 5x4)
Walton lbw Gul    0
(1b)
Miller c Malik b Afridi    51
(57b, 6x4, 1x6)
Best st K Akmal b Ajmal    8
(19b, 1x4)
Tonge (not out)    4
(9b)
Extras (W-5, NB-1)    6
Total (all out, 34.3 overs)    133
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Richards), 2-11 (Fletcher), 3-14 (Dowlin), 4-36 (Smith), 5-43 (Bernard), 6-47 (Reifer), 7-47 (Walton), 8-85 (Sammy), 9-121 (Best).
Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 7-1-24-3 (w-1), Naved-ul-Hasan Rana 7-0-26-1 (w-2, nb-1), Umar Gul 8-2-28-3 (w-2), Shahid Afridi 8.3-0-39-1, Saeed Ajmal 4-0-16-2.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 31/3; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 20/4; Power Play 3 (batting): 27-31 overs: 33/0.

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