Pakistan were left to woe a tied One-Day International (ODI) match as wicket-keeper Umar Akmal missed a run-out opportunity on the final ball, enabling the West Indies last-wicket pair of Kemar Roach and Jason Holder to scramble for two runs off the final ball.
Responding to the tourists’ total of 229 for six, and requiring 15 off the final over to win, Holder smashed a four and a six over cover off paceman Wahab Riaz to keep the home side’s unlikely prospects alive, resulting in the last-ball drama that left the series level at 1-1 going into the fourth match at the same venue today.
West Indies middle-order batsman Lendl Simmons and Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq, the joint top-scorers with 75 runs each in the thrilling encounter, also shared the man-of-the-match award.
However, Misbah found it difficult to accept how his team could not have won the match after reducing the Caribbean side to 205 for nine in the 48th over.
“It’s really, really disappointing, but I have to say the way Holder played at the end, he took the game away from us,” said an incredulous Misbah. “Hats off to them, they played well.”
Holder and Dwayne Bravo took two wickets apiece but skipper Bravo’s decision to persist with himself in the final overs proved costly, his last three overs being plastered for 40 runs.
“This was a match we should have won after the bowlers had done such a good job,” a disappointed Bravo insisted.
“Once again the batting let us down. It should never have gotten down to the bowlers having to save us.”
With spinner Saeed Ajmal taking three wickets in the space of two overs and Junaid Khan joining in with two scalps himself, the West Indies looked to have frittered away their opportunity in losing five wickets for 27 runs.
Big-hitting from Sunil Narine during a very brief cameo revived flagging hopes as the Pakistan squad deliberated with their captain over who should bowl the final over.
Choosing Wahab was always going to be a gamble, as he had already conceded the most expensive over of the innings when belted for 15 runs during the Batting Powerplay.
Holder smashed some crucial boundaries after a couple of singles, leaving three runs for victory and two to tie off the final ball.
A sliced drive to third-man guaranteed at least one, but he should have been run out by at least half the length of the pitch in coming back for the second tying run, only for Akmal to fail to collect the return.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.
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