Pakistan find the right kind of consistency to wrap up Twenty20 series in Dubai

Paul Radley reports from a hot and humid Dubai International Cricket Stadium where Pakistan took an unassailable lead in their Twenty20 series against the West Indies.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s 32-ball unbeaten 46 was a captain’s effort and key to victory against the West Indies. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Sarfraz Ahmed’s 32-ball unbeaten 46 was a captain’s effort and key to victory against the West Indies. Francois Nel / Getty Images

DUBAI // Ahead of this series, the opposing sets of players took turns to suggest they had exactly the same target in mind. Namely, to achieve consistency.

With the Twenty20 series now decided within the space of around six hours of cricket, both have nailed that. Pakistan have been consistently good. West Indies, consistently poor.

With Amir Khan, the British boxing star, watching on in the stands wearing Pakistan green, the hosts applied the knockout blow as they sealed a 16-run win.

It gave Pakistan an unassailable 2-0 lead. It is tempting to suggest the nominal hosts did not have to break sweat to reach this point, but that would be stretching the truth.

Easy though their wins were, their playing kit was still drenched, given the prevailing conditions. For the past two nights, the Dubai International Stadium has been like one big sweat box.

That might have been part of the reason people stayed away. That, and the conspicuous absence of Shahid Afridi, of course. The crowd was far down on Friday night’s assembly, at least at the start of the game.

More from Pakistan v West Indies:

• 1st T20: Imad Wasim shapes Pakistan in his consistent image, and a new era begins

• Video: Pakistan out to prove short-format worth as well in West Indies series

• Video: UAE cricket XI get shot at world champions West Indies

The organisers must have been expecting lower turnouts for this series, judged by the set up at the ground. Where cheerleaders used to be, there is now a big screen. Might as well save on money employing people to whip up crowds who are not there.

If Pakistan continue to play like this, though, the people will soon come flocking back — whether it be a work or school night, or not. As they do in white, they are starting to look like a team to believe in in coloured clothing again now.

On this occasion, they will take pleasure in the fact their contributors were spread consistently through the side. Khalid Latif made 40 at the top of the order. Shoaib Malik did his best to show he is all about the team with a timely cameo of 37. Sarfraz Ahmed’s 32-ball unbeaten 46 was a captain’s effort.

With 161 to defend — which would have been the biggest chase in 20-​over history on this ground — the bowlers were suitably constricting, too.

In three T20Is this month, Imad Wasim has combined figures of eight for 49, which is a rate of more or less four runs per over. He was thrifty again, with one for 18 off his four overs opening the bowling. And Sohail Tanvir was the pick of the bowlers, with three for 13.

For Carlos Brathwaite, the new West Indies captain, this series has been a baptism of fire, although he did at least have brief reason for cheer, as he took the wicket of Babar Azam with the first delivery he sent down in this match.

To celebrate, Brathwaite performed an elaborate dab — not just once, but three times. It felt out of character. He has given the impression so far on tour of an unaffected professional, not given to showiness.

Maybe he was just making a point about the weather. Everyone in the ground had a dab on, on another night of high humidity.

Later, Brathwaite was perfectly magnanimous when Umar Akmal responded to catching Johnson Charles, the first West Indies wicket to fall, by copying the three-dab celebration.

It was replayed on the big screen for some while after, and Akmal was fielding in front of the away viewing area at the time. Instead of fussing, Brathwaite smiled broadly.

It was Pakistan who left laughing loudest, though, as they head to Abu Dhabi for the final match of the series on Tuesday night.

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Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM


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