Pakistan revamped their batting for this series, ditching the experienced trio of Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal, but it made no difference as Misbah-ul-Haq was yet again left to firefight as the wickets tumbled around him.
On a drizzly day in Providence, West Indies’ punt in picking the towering Jason Holder for Tino Best paid off spectacularly. Holder, playing only his fourth ODI, ripped through the new-look Pakistan line-up in a searing opening spell of 8-4-8-4 in which he had the ball swerving both ways, befuddling the batsmen.
His first two wickets, both of which came with the batsmen attempting to leave the ball, showed the problems he posed. Ahmed Shehzad, playing his first ODI in two years, tried to shoulder arms but Holder got the ball to jag away late and Shehzad ended up inside-edging onto the stumps. Mohammad Hafeez, with three single-digit scores in his previous four ODIs, also looked to let the ball go to the keeper but the delivery darted in to take the offstump, and leave Hafeez looking foolish.
Pakistan have reposed much of their their top-order faith in Nasir Jamshed in recent times, and once again they were looking to him providing some stability after another rocky start. He couldn’t deliver this time, though, as he was sent off in the eighth over by an umpiring error, adjudged lbw when the ball was clearly going to miss off stump.
Things got even better for Holder as Asad Shafiq fell for a golden duck, nicking behind only for Johnson Charles to take a superb diving catch. That put Holder on a hat-trick, and though he couldn’t achieve that he had comeback man Umar Akmal in all sorts of bother. There were edges short of slip, several beatens, a clear caught-behind that was turned down and a difficult stumping chance.
Misbah was his usual patient self, showing off his watertight technique as he kept out everything West Indies hurled at him. Despite his resistance, Pakistan lost three wickets for eight runs in a 10-over spell ending in the 14th.
Akmal swung a six over square leg to end that suffocating spell but soon after he holed out to mid-off, bringing in another comeback man, Shahid Afridi. Pakistan were 47 for 5, and had a lengthy tail to follow, but that didn’t prevent Afridi from launching his third delivery for six over long-off. There was more of the big swings associated with his batting as he and Misbah pushed Pakistan along to 74 for 5 at the halfway stage.
What is even more worrying for Pakistan is that this is their last recognised batting pair, and West Indies had yet to bring on mystery spinner Sunil Narine, who can run through the lower order.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo