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sportswisbahulhaqledIt was the captain’s call. And not for the first time in the series Dwayne Bravo got it wrong.

Pakistan won the fifth and final One-Day International by four wickets against the West Indies at the Beausejour Stadium in St. Lucia today, took the series 3-1, and apart from their dominant play, could thank Bravo for his failure to entrust the “death” overs to someone other than himself after leaking runs at the end of Pakistan’s innings throughout the five-match series.

Having earlier utilised all the overs of his most parsimonious bowlers in the series, Darren Sammy and Sunil Narine, with 15 runs required from the final two overs Bravo bowled the penultimate over to no less an adversary than Shahid Afridi who duly took 10 runs off two balls in an over that went for 13. This came after pacer Tino Best had surrendered 12 runs in the previous over where he also dismissed Umar Akmal for a belligerent 37.

That was match over.

With two runs needed for victory in Jason Holder’s and the final over of the game the result was a formality even though the lanky fast bowler took the game to the penultimate delivery before Saeed Ajmal and Afridi scrambled a leg-bye to bring joy to the Pakistan dressing room and their supporters.

Once again Pakistan’s response to the West Indies below par 242 for 7 was built around their admirable captain Misbah Ul-Haq. His was a stabilising presence during their run-chase and his patient 63, following on opener Ahmed Shehzad’s 64, was the basis of their 243 for 6.

Ul-Haq was not at the wicket when victory was achieved after driving Holder to captain Bravo at short cover in the final over. He was however at the centre of a dubious umpiring decision when he appeared to glove Best down the leg side to stand-in wicketkeeper Lendl Simmons.

Umpire Paul Reiffel gave what seemed a definite deflection off the glove as not out and on Bravo’s reference to DRS, third umpire Steve Davis saw, and heard nothing conclusive, to change the on-field umpire’s decision. Ul-Haq was 49 at the time in the 43rd over. Best and Bravo were dumbstruck and the decision would prove critical.

Simmons, who performed creditably behind the stumps after taking over from the other stand-in keeper Johnson Charles who had a stomach ailment, failed to recognise at least one edge which he caught off Mohammed Hafeez’ bat off Sunil Narine in the 14th over.

It summed up the West Indies’ fielding at critical stages with missed run-out attempts, Best failing to cover the stumps to effect a possible run-out and some shoddy fielding on the boundary by Narine which drew the visible ire of former ODI skipper Darren Sammy. For the West Indies Best finished with 3 for 48 in his 10 overs but tended to be, as usual, too short.

Sammy had the commendable figures of 1 for 35 in his 10 overs while Holder finished with 1 for 47 in 9.5 overs. Bravo’s five wicketless overs went for 41 runs.

Earlier in the day captain Bravo had led a late recovery as the West Indies battled to set a competitive target after a stuttering innings in which Junaid Khan (three for 48) was the

pick of the Pakistani bowlers. Bravo, who made his way out to the crease when

the West Indies were 170 for 6 with less than six overs remaining, hit 48 from 27 balls to help his side to their eventual total.

He struck five fours and three sixes in his short, impactful innings before he was caught by Haris Sohail off the bowling of Ajmal for 48.

After losing the toss and being put into bat, the West Indies lost wickets at regular intervals to some indifferent batting.

Devon Smith, surely on his last assignment for the West Indies, was the first man out for seven before Darren Bravo’s dismissal for nine left the home side on 44 for two. Given Ul-Haq’s later reprieve, Bravo could consider himself unlucky after being given not out for an appeal for a catch to Akmal off Khan, only to have the result reversed by Davis under similar circumstances.

Johnson Charles (43) and Marlon Samuels (45) offered some resistance, but Chris Gayle and Simmons, who has had a good series, failed to get out of the 20s. Charles, once again lived a charmed life, and lost his wicket to an ungainly overhead waft at Mohammad Irfan more befitting someone who had a pre-game lobotomy that went awry than a

competent opening batsman. Sammy’s late cameo of 29 from 18 balls assisted Bravo’s

late blast as they added 53 for the seventh wicket to give themselves something at which to bowl. It wasn’t enough.

In his post-match interview Bravo spoke of his disappointment over “key decisions” going against the West Indies and said that had those decisions gone in their favour, the result of the game and the series could’ve been different.

“I think today was a good day but we lost the game. We’ve got to give credit to them. Congratulations for Pakistan. My boys did well as well. It was a hard fought series. A few decisions went against us,” he said, while praising the efforts of Samuels, Simmons and Best.

He was also reflective on his leadership which has generated much debate during the series.

“It is a new role for me as a young leader. I get a lot of assistance and they make my job a lot easier. We can’t turn things around overnight. We need time and we have the talent.”

Ul Haq said he was extremely pleased with the way his team had played in the tournament.

“It is very satisfying to win the tournament after our poor show in the Champions Trophy. We needed this,” the man- of-the-match and man-of-the-series said. (WG)

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