Pakistan, after an amazing T20I contest, beat West Indies by three runs on late Thursday in the second of the four-match series at Port of Spain.
Here are the five talking points from the encounter.
1. Shadab Khan must keep his feet on the ground
It’s difficult to not get incredibly excited about this young man. Two matches, two match-defining performances and two man-of-the-match awards later, Shadab is Pakistan’s newest darling. However, he still has a long, long career ahead of him and needs to continue progressing if he is to ensure that the sport doesn’t leave him behind.
Players like Virat Kohli will read him off the hand so well that it would seem they are reading his mind, while players like AB de Villiers will play him off the pitch so effortlessly it would seem they are stopping time for a few seconds. He will surely be expensive in the future — that is an occupational hazard all leg-spinners have to deal with. It is important that both he and the management keep faith in his abilities when that happens.
2. Sarfraz can be Wahab’s brain
Wahab Riaz has, in flashes, shown just how good he can be. He has pace to burn and can bowl unplayable deliveries almost at will on his day. He can be a bit erratic though and often loses the plot. A hands-on captain like Sarfraz Ahmed can help him in the clutch moments, like he did yesterday. The most unfortunate conundrum here might just be that Mohammad Hafeez could be a better option with the ball than Wahab in such conditions, but Wahab is a better option with the bat on current form.
3. Fakhar Zaman must be persisted with
Zaman belongs to a unique group of batsmen who can be both dependable and aggressive; able to take the attack to the opposition without throwing away their wicket. His domestic record speaks for itself; a List A average of almost 50 and strike-rate of more than 90 and a T20 average of nearly 30 to go with a strike-rate of above 135. He has been performing for nearly five years now and should be afforded the confidence such players require to succeed when they take the leap to international cricket.
4. West Indies’ fielding is even worse than Pakistan’s
Apart from Marlon Samuels’ catch to dismiss skipper Sarfraz, West Indies’ fielding was laughable. Several fumbles led to boundaries and Holder was particularly guilty of letting a Wahab Riaz catch slip between his hands and go for a six.
Had even one of those gaffes been prevented, West Indies may well have won it. The most damning thing may well be that Kamran Akmal fielded better than almost every West Indian fielder.
5. Pakistan reaping fruits of aggressive captaincy
Captains of the past would most likely have kept Shadab’s final over for later. Sarfraz went for broke. The result; a maiden that also yielded the all-important Samuels wicket off the final ball. The importance of taking wickets was all too clear when Sarfraz had four catching fielders for Shadab’s hat-trick delivery.