Pakistan edged past the West Indies by four wickets to win the fifth and final One-Day International off the penultimate ball of the match. In the end, the tourists took the series 3-1 but the battle was tighter than the gap showed—superior bowling, better fielding and one man called Misbah-ul-Haq made the difference.
West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo wasn’t happy with the umpiring decisions, but his batsmen failed to contribute regularly and his bowlers erred at key junctures. Chris Gayle was a no-show, Kieron Pollard was left out for the final two matches and the openers found things tough against Mohammad Irfan.
Pakistan’s go-slow and dead bat approach was widely questioned throughout the series, which was devoid of fireworks at the start—bar the Shahid Afridi cameo in the opening match. But comeback kid Umar Akmal—with the bat and behind the stumps—aptly complemented Misbah’s dream run to take Pakistan to the trophy.
Here, we rate how well each member of the touring side did in the five-match series.
A dream series for the 39-year-old Pakistan captain, leading on from his commendable Champions Trophy campaign, as he scored 260 runs—reaching 50 in four of the five innings—in the Caribbean.
Misbah is also becoming one of the best fielders in the Pakistan side, diving and sliding like a 20-year-old. He ran out Chris Gayle in the opening ODI with a direct hit from extra-cover, a blow that the West Indies left-hander failed to recover from in the rest of the series.
On batting alone, Misbah would’ve scored a perfect 10—despite a strike-rate of just over 63—as he anchored Pakistan at various junctures while also providing that sudden, welcome maximum. However, leaving out Junaid Khan from the opening two ODIs, his field placements in the third match and handing Wahab Riaz the ball for the final over in that tie remain blips on his performance sheet, which brought his overall score down to a commendable nine—a worthy man of the series.
This was Ahmed Shehzad’s first international outing for over two years—he was banished from the side after a disappointing tour of the Caribbean in 2011 despite a century.
Shehzad is an aggressive batsman, but his showings in the five matches on this tour remained questionable. An able fielder at point, Shehzad could only muster 119 runs at a strike rate of under 60. The 64 in the final-ODI chase was his highest score of the series and showed a glimpse of his aggressive nature with three boundaries in the opening four overs.
Perhaps it was the extra pressure of a comeback series, or it might have been the difficult batting conditions, but Shehzad’s approach looked unnatural but steady. Despite the low aggregate, Pakistan should look to continue with the youngster.
Nasir Jamshed’s graph has kept falling since the India series at the start of the year.
Jamshed did score a half-century against the West Indies with some solid and steady batting in the Champions Trophy, but apprehensive stroke play and the dead-bat approach defy his natural, attacking style. However, with team plans requiring the openers to survive the new ball, Jamshed’s inability to strive on his initial struggle remains a worry.
He was also unlucky to be run out in the last two matches through not much fault of his own.
A poor series for Mohammad Hafeez—just 105 runs and no wickets.
His 59 in the rain-affected fourth ODI helped Pakistan sneak past the line in tricky circumstances, but Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain knows full well he needs to do more with the bat in order to justify his top-order position.
Pakistan had high expectations from Hafeez prior to his promotion as Twenty20 captain, but has not been able to maintain his batting form of late. He has not been, surprisingly, bowling his full quota in ODIs either, bringing more question marks over his place in the side.
A golden duck and a 10 in the opening two matches meant a swift banishment to the benches for Asad Shafiq.
While his Test form has been splendid, Shafiq has been unable to replicate that in the shorter format and had failed to keep his place in the side during the Champions Trophy either.
Shafiq is a safe boundary-rider but hasn’t been able to contribute much with the bat. Shafiq’s inclusion in the playing XI also meant that Misbah, Pakistan’s premier batsman in the last year, was pushed down to No. 5.
A solid 26 on debut after being drafted into the side at the expense of Shafiq, Haris showed brief glimpses of his potential.
The left-hander has been scoring heavily in domestic cricket, but his mettle wasn’t really tested in the two matches he batted in, especially with Misbah being in sublime form. Haris did have a rush-of-blood moment in the final ODI, slashing at a wide delivery to be caught behind, but he has probably done enough to warrant a place in the side for the series against Zimbabwe.
In and out of the side recently—more for his attitude and inability to compose himself than performance—Umar Akmal has finally banished the demons of the past.
Umar was handed the wicket-keeping gloves after Kamran Akmal was omitted from the squad and Mohammad Rizwan—the specialist keeper—kept to the sidelines. With 10 dismissals, a few runouts, diving stops and 175 runs at a strike rate of over 111, Umar’s comeback was sweeter than the iftar-party jalebis.
His catch to dismiss Galye in the final ODI would’ve put Kamran to shame, and his batting throughout the series should’ve gotten the PCB selection committee down with embarrassment. Umar did miss that crucial last-ball runout in the tied third ODI and nearly threw away the match with a rash dismissal in the fifth, but his willingness to get on with things and improve with each match was what Pakistan had been heavily missing.
The comeback king showed the world what it had been missing with a 55-ball 76 and career-best seven-for-12 in the first match of the series.
Afridi managed just three wickets in the following four matches but still ended as the highest wicket-taker in the series. His batting, too, remained unreliable with just 26 runs in the following four matches, but his presence was what helped Pakistan and worries West Indies.
Afridi scored a crucial six-ball 13 in the fifth ODI to take his team past the finish line and did just about enough—with the bat, ball and in the field—to not be left out the next time Pakistan’s ODI squad is announced.
With just two wickets from four matches and an economy rate of 5.35, Wahab’s struggles continued in the series.
He was drafted into the side for the Champions Trophy given Pakistan’s long tail, but the erratic display with the ball continued, including that 14-run last over that gave the hosts a thrilling tie in the third ODI.
Wahab is heavily backed by the team management, but his inability to put in consistent performances has been criticised, as has his knack of giving away too many runs. He failed to do much with the bat either—29 runs in three innings—and it will be interesting to see whether he is retained for the next series or not, especially if Umar Gul makes his comeback from injury.
With eight wickets from five matches, Saeed Ajmal did not have the best of series in terms of the wicket tally, but his continued bamboozling of the West Indies batsmen is a tale not told in numbers.
There was utter respect for the Pakistan off-spinner from the hosts, apart from Lendl Simmons on a couple of occasions, and Ajmal's ability to hang around as a batsman is also a huge plus for his side. His middle and leg-stump line did cry defensive strategy at times, but his death-bowling expertise was what helped Pakistan the most, especially when they could set an attacking field.
Asad Ali has been quite impressive in domestic cricket and was lauded by the team management.
However, being medium-fast and not able to move the ball too much, Asad was found wanting against the West Indies batsmen. He did stick to an impeccable line most of the time, but wanting to try different things did prove to be his downfall at various points in the series.
A solitary wicket to show from three matches doesn’t help his confidence and the trust his captain had put in him though.
Why Junaid Khan was benched for the opening two matches is anyone’s guess.
He has bowled with venom while partnering Mohammad Irfan with the new ball, but with Wahab preferred due to his batting and the team management insisting on trying Asad Ali, Junaid was left to carry drinks.
He was drafted into the playing XI after the second-ODI loss and picked up seven wickets in the three matches. His aggression, ability to move the ball in the air and off the seam as well as persistence with the awkward line from over the wicket meant plenty of problems for the batting side.
The 7'1" left-hander keeps growing in stature.
He has been tormenting the best batsmen around the world not just with his height, but also the awkward and steep bounce he gets on all types of surfaces.
Irfan was the second-highest wicket-taker in the series with nine from five matches. With an economy rate of 3.89 and causing a bagful of problems for the West Indies side, Irfan is helping Pakistan move on from the 2010 loss of two fast bowlers.
At his best with the new ball, Irfan’s unerring accuracy forced Chris Gayle to move down the order after scores of one, one and eight in the opening three matches. There were questions over Irfan’s fitness, but his ability to bowl fast consistently and his diving stops in the field dismissed all those worries with ease.