Asad, Misbh steer Pakistan to victory in ODI opener

GROS ISLET - Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, and Mohammad Hafeez all coasted to half-centuries as Pakistan clinched a comfortable eight-wicket win over West Indies in the first one-day international on Saturday.

Misbah hit the top score of an unbeaten 73 from 90 deliveries, and Shafiq supported with 61 not out from 76 balls, after man-of-the-match Hafeez gave the Pakistanis a flying start with 54 from 45 balls in their successful chase of 222 for victory. Shafiq ushered Pakistan over the finish line with 51 balls remaining when he edged a slog at a delivery from Kemar Roach to third man for a single. The result gave Pakistanis a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, which continues on Monday at the same Beausejour ground. Wayward bowling from the visitors in the closing overs had let West Indies finish with 221 for six from their 50 overs. Wahab Riaz was the most successful bowler with two for 62 from 10 overs, but he and fellow left-arm fast-medium bowler Junaid Khan let their side down. Pakistan’s spin bowling triumvirate of Saeed Ajmal, Hafeez and captain Shahid Afridi tied the West Indies batsmen down in the middle overs in particular.

But the two Pakistani left-arm pacers did not have the same control over the home team’s batsmen and Darren Bravo hit 67 from 109 balls to lead the way for West Indies. “I was very happy when West Indies won the toss and chose to bat because I thought the pitch would help our spinners,” said Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi. “I think our spinners have been doing a great job for us in the last few months, and they again set things up for us. “The way the openers Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad played was also good to see, and then the partnership between Misbah and Asad brought us home. It was good cricket all around for us.” Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad then gave the visitors a blistering start in an opening stand of 68 before Devendra Bishoo snared both of them in the space of 25 balls to end with two for 48 from his 10 overs. Shehzad moving down the pitch was stumped for 22 in the 13th over off the leg-spinner, and Hafeez, whose 50 came from 48 balls, was caught at short mid-wicket in the 17th over off the same bowler. Misbah joined Shafiq and they marched Pakistan to victory with an unbroken, third-wicket stand of 134, a record for any wicket on the ground. Misbah reached his 50 from 63 balls with a pull to deep square leg for a single off Sammy in the 35th over, and Shafiq arrived at his landmark from 66 balls with an upper-cut to third man for four off Dwayne Bravo in the 39th over. “We put ourselves in a hole when we were batting, and the spinners were bowling, so we really have to come better in the next game,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy whose team also lost to Pakistan in last month’s World Cup quarter-finals. “I was surprised to see the pitch offer so much turn and bounce, but I will back our guys. We will put in the hard work at practice and come back. “We may need to show more intent in our approach. We have a new batting coach, and he has been doing some good work, but we can’t lose sight of us reaching 221 coming from our position in the middle of the innings, so hopefully we can improve on this next time.”