Trying different combinations reason for ODI clean sweep against West Indies: Babar Azam

by IANS |

Multan, June 13 (IANS) Pakistan skipper Babar Azam has said the secret behind the team's clean sweep in the three-match ODI series against the West Indies was keeping the tourists guessing over the team combination in every game.

Pakistan won the third and final ODI by 53 runs under Duckworth-Lewis rule on Sunday with the hosts amassing 26/9 in 48 overs and then bundling out the West Indies for 216 in 37.2 overs.

"We executed our plans and got the desired results. We are trying different combinations with bat and ball. We will try to keep continuity and also test our bench strength," said Babar Azam.

Though Azam failed with the bat and star quick Shaheen Shah Afridi was rested, it mattered little as Pakistan cruised to an easy win.

It's not often that the skipper fails with the bat, but that was the case in the third ODI as the Pakistan captain was dismissed for just one by Hayden Walsh.

But in what was a promising sign for Pakistan ahead of next year's ICC Cricket World Cup in India, plenty of his team-mates stepped up when required and gave the No.1 ranked ODI batter some help with the willow.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq (62 off 68 balls) contributed another half-century and was deservedly named Player of the Series, while middle-order duo Shadab Khan (86 from 78 balls) and Khushdil Shah (34 off 43 balls) continue to impress during the final overs of an innings.

Up until Sunday's clash, new West Indies' white-ball skipper Nicholas Pooran had bowled just three deliveries in ODI cricket, but that changed quickly as the part-time off-spinner claimed four key Pakistan wickets and career best figures (4/48) with the ball.

Pooran found plenty of bounce and turn, sending back Fakhar Zaman (35), Imam-ul-Haq (62), Mohammad Haris (zero) and Mohammad Rizwan (11) to help reduce the hosts to 117/5, but that was as good as it got for the visitors as Shadab Khan and Khushdil Shah ensured Pakistan could post a competitive score with some lofty late hitting.

While Pooran is much more known as a stylish middle-order batter, his latest exploits suggest he could easily develop into a world-class all-rounder with both bat and ball.

Shaheen Afridi was rested for the final ODI of the series and his absence was hardly felt as Pakistan's strong bowling line-up impressed in the searing Multan heat.

Shadab Khan backed up his performance with the bat by picking up four West Indies wickets, while Hasan Ali bowled well with the new ball to claim the key wicket of Shai Hope (21) and the final scalp of Romario Shepherd (16) to ensure West Indies could not chase down Pakistan's score.

Debutant Shahnawaz Dahani was lively with the new ball and stayed composed after going for some early runs and was duly rewarded with the wicket of Kyle Mayers for five.

West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran was quoted as saying by ICC after the loss that, "The last two games were disappointing for us. We played poorly with the bat. We did well as a team and going forward that will be the template."

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