Pakistan have won the third ODI at the Gaddafi Stadium with relative ease compared to the last game at Faisalabad. Guided by the prolific Mohammad Yousuf, they won the match by a comfortable margin of 7 wickets with seven balls to spare. The target for the homeside was a revised 191 from 35 overs according to the Duckworth Lewis Method. It was a curtailed game not because of bad weather but because of bad light which in turn was due to the failure of the light towers to turn on during the evening.
West Indies who were put into bat by Inzamam had to abruptly end their innings at 207 for 7 in 46.3 overs following the technical problem with the flood lights. The revised target for Pak wasn’t all that easy as the pitch was assisting seam bowling and the cool weather was aiding the ball to swing. Yet the Windies’ bowlers failed to defend the 191 runs much to the disappointment of their Skipper Brian Lara. A few elementary chances that should have been taken along with some half chances had let the team down, otherwise the match would have been controlled by the visitors. Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez provided the ideal start putting on 64 in about 13 overs before Hafeez holed onto Jerome Taylor at deep mid wicket trying to sweep Chris Gayle for his second six. Hafeez made 31 from 43. His partner Imran Farhat opted to play the unorthodox way against the moving ball and was successful in keeping the required rate under a check. He put on a useful 39 runs partnership with Kamran Akmal and then followed it up with a 45-run stand with Yousuf. Imran Farhat departed after going for an ambitious lofted shot which he miscued off Collymore. Farhat had got 58 from 72 with 5 fours and 2 sixes.
When Imran Farhat had departed, there was still a good amount of job to be done by Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik as their side required 43 runs from 59 balls. A couple of wickets at this stage could have got the Windies back in the game with Inzamam not in a realistic position to bat after he had injured his finger early on and had got three stitches on it. Corey Collymore fought a lone battle as he got past the outside edge on a number of occasions, he had a great upright seam position that was making the ball to talk. But he didn’t have the support at the other end and Yousuf along with Malik got the victory for Pakistan in the 34th over. Yousuf who was back in this match in place of Younis Khan remained unbeaten on a well composed 28 from 38. Shoaib Malik fought his way through with an unbeaten 29-ball 21. Brian Lara was a dejected man at the end of the match as he firmly believed that his side was in a good position to win as the ball was darting around. A few costly blemishes on the field along with 31 extras had hurt the West Indies very badly and they now have only the opportunity to save the 5-match series.
In the afternoon, Pakistan were happy to bring back Mohammad Yousuf back in the team but at the expense of their Vice Captain, Younis Khan who had to return home due to the unfortunate death of his brother. West Indies retained the same side with Shivnarine Chanderpaul still not recovering from his knee injury. It was a surprise move from Brian Lara to open the innings with Chris Gayle under overcast conditions. The move backfired with Brian Lara caught in the crease to a late inswinger from Rana Naved which was only the first ball he had faced in the innings! Chris Gayle made sure that the Pakistani bowlers didn’t get on top with his smashing shots, but he was also done in by a Rana Naved inswinger that had trapped him in front of the stumps. Gayle’s fireworks were restricted to an individual score of 41 from 37 balls which had 7 fours and one six off Rana.
Once Chris Gayle was done and dusted, the bowlers took control of the game and the scoreboard crawled. Lendl Simmons, the 21-year-old new comer hung in there to see that his side didn’t lose wickets in a hurry as was the case in Faisalabad. He could stitch a 61-run partnership with Daren Ganga to do the repair job. After the fall of Ganga’s wicket, Simmons had to see two more wickets go down before he himself fell in the 47th over after he was trying to squeeze a Rana Naved yorker. But he scored a promising 70 by then which could be the break he was looking for in International Cricket. Lendl Simmons who is the nephew of former West Indian all rounder Phil Simmons was playing just his 2nd ODI. His first one was in the previous game where he had opened the innings to get a second ball-duck. Today he showed his potential scoring 70 runs under pressure off 130 balls with the help of 7 fours. After 46.3 overs were bowled, bad light was offered by the Umpires as there was a failure with the floodlights. It was caused due to an internal fault developed in one of the transformers.
The Man of the Match had gone to Rana Naved who picked up three big wickets for 37 runs in 8.3 overs. Abdur Rehman who was paying only his second ODI continued to impress with his left arm spin taking 2 for 33 in 10. Pakistan will be looking to seal the series in the next ODI which is at Multan on the 13th.