Monday, April 25, 2011

Regular wickets put Pakistan on top


West Indies v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Gros Islet, St Lucia

Regular wickets put Pakistan on top

The Bulletin by George Binoy
April 25, 2011
For the briefest of whiles West Indies, spurred by Lendl Simmons, were making a more spirited start in this game compared to their struggle in the first ODI. Simmons, however, had little support as his team-mates either flickered and perished, or struggled to rotate the strike. Pakistan's spinners steadily stacked up dot balls as Simmons looked on, and his dismissal for 51 left West Indies in desperate need of a momentum-wresting partnership.
Mohammad Hafeez
The day began with left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan bowling a maiden at Simmons. At the other end there was Mohammad Hafeez, bowling skiddy offbreaks with the new ball. Devon Smith sparked the innings to life, skipping down the pitch to hoist the offspinner over midwicket, and making use of Junaid's width to cut to the boundary. Smith went past 1000 ODI runs but his innings was cut short, as he was adjudged lbw by Asoka de Silva though Hafeez's ball had struck the pad outside off stump.
Simmons struck his first boundary - a pull off Wahab Riaz past mid-on - off the 17th delivery he faced and then hit one more two balls later, square-driving a wide one with flourish. Between the eighth and the ninth over, Simmons lay on the turf, writhing in pain after getting struck on the knee by Wahab, but he recovered to carry on.
While Simmons was batting with Darren Bravo, the signs were promising for West Indies. Bravo had driven Junaid fluently through cover, and then cut Hafeez off the back foot. West Indies were 53 for 1 after the mandatory Powerplay.
Saeed Ajmal had bowled without the reward he deserved in the first ODI. He had teased and beaten Bravo at will. Today, he dismissed Bravo first ball, spinning one from leg across the left-hander, drawing the edge to first slip.
With Marlon Samuels' entry, the run-rate began to plummet, as he blocked and was beaten. West Indies scored 14 runs off the bowling Powerplay and the innings was losing direction. Simmons countered by launching Shahid Afridi out of the ground over midwicket and then charging and hitting Junaid for a straight six. He was deft, too, dabbing a full ball from Afridi fine past third man.
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. Samuels then hit his first four, lofting Junaid over extra cover, off his 37th ball. He lost Kirk Edwards quickly, and Pakistan only had to dislodge Dwayne Bravo to keep the hosts to a middling total.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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