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September 25, 2009

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Pakistan survives a scare, beats Windies

PAKISTAN was given a huge fright before wrapping up a five-wicket win over the West Indies at the Wanderers in the Champions Trophy on Wednesday.

After punching out a second-string West Indies for 133 inside 35 overs, Pakistan sealed the first Group A result in 31 overs at 134-5 in Johannesburg.

Pakistan made hard work of chasing the modest target.

Both openers were back in the changing room for five each. Imran Nazir lost his middle stump to a peach of a delivery from on-fire Gavin Tonge, who then forced Kamran Akmal to nick a ball into the gloves of wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton trying to cut a short-pitched rising delivery at 21-2.

Tonge should have had his third wicket, the prize of master batsman Mohammad Yousuf, but second slip Darren Sammy put down the chance.

At 35-2, Pakistan needed just 99 from the remaining 40 overs.

West Indies, fielding a weakened lineup in the tournament despite their leading players ending a boycott last month over contractual disputes, opted to use its second bowling powerplay from overs 10 to 15 to force the breakthrough, and it paid dividends, as Tonge had Shoaib Malik edging another full-pitch ball to be caught behind for 23.

The same combination struck for the third time when the dangerous Yousuf was a trifle unlucky to be given out caught behind down the leg side for 23 when it appeared the ball had come off his thigh pad and not his bat.

Caught behind

The fourth wicket for Tonge (4-25) reduced Pakistan to 61-4. That became five down when Misbah-ul-Haq was caught behind for six off David Bernard.

But Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, with an unbeaten 17, joined Umar Akmal, 41 not out, at the crease to lead the team to victory without any further trouble, and with 19.3 overs to spare.

"I was really happy with the way the guys bowled and their maturity," Afridi said. "My batting partner at the end, Umar Akmal, played positively on an awkward pitch, that's the way he likes to bat and what I like about him."

Earlier, West Indies captain Floyd Reifer must have wished back his choice to bat first after winning the toss on what looked - and proved - to be a lively pitch.

Left-arm quick Mohammed Aamer led the attack and caused the initial damage with the early wickets of Dale Richards (1) in the first over then Travis Dowlin (0), and a short while later in his second spell, Bernard, bowled for 6.

First-change bowler Umar Gul (3 for 28 off eight overs) and right-arm slow bowler Saeed Ajmal (2 for 16 off four overs) inflicted more pain on a West Indies lineup whose batting was anything but disciplined.

It was left to No. 9 Nikita Miller, with 50 off 51 balls before he was last out for 57, to show that with patience and regard for the conditions, that runs were there, albeit through hard work. Only two other teammates reached double figures, Devon Smith (18) and Sammy (25).


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