Cricket: Wasim recovers Pakistan cause

Pakistan 229-8 West Indies 202 Pakistan win by 27 runs
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The Independent Online
THE IMBALANCE of the previous 84 one-day meetings between these two sides was redressed a trifle when Pakistan yesterday recorded their 27th victory of the series (the West Indies having 56 wins, with two ties in the 25 years since their first meeting in the 1975 World Cup) although one that ended tainted by if not controversy then at best mystery.

First, Saqlain Mushtaq appeared to have bowled Mervyn Dillon around his legs, then next ball, when he looked to have been stumped, the umpires Darrell Hair and David Orchard were unable to call on the BBC television replays of the action, leaving the Pakistan team and the spectators bewildered and not a little bothered.

It did not prove too critical as things turned out but it did prolong the agony. In the end the glory was shared among the Pakistan players; the confrontation presented the British public with an opportunity to witness the pace of the Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

It is typical that whenever you want a policeman and his speed gun there is never one around. And they certainly could have done with one here to record one of the fastest deliveries seen on this ground if not in this country.

The only thing the West Indies opener, Sherwin Campbell, could have seen of the delivery which bowled him would have been its vapour trail after it had pitched on the off-stump line before cutting back viciously to take the top off middle and leg. All the same he departed with an edged six to his credit off Shoaib, who has been clocked at 96mph, quicker even than Allan Donald of South Africa. He could even become the first "ton-up" bowler.

Given his 35-yard run-up, Shoaib must appear like a speck to a batsman while to the slips and wicketkeeper standing almost on the 30-yard circle he must be minuscule. It is probably just as well that negotiations to install a speed gun for these matches are still under way, the absence of confirmation of his pace can only be to the batsmen's benefit.

While all their attention was focused on surviving the fastest there was a suspicion that perhaps the guard was dropped when they faced the less lethal members of the Pakistani attack. That allowed the commendable Abdul Razzaq to whip out the most valuable wicket of Brian Lara, the West Indies captain driving at a slower ball and skying a catch, as well as the surviving opener, Ridley Jacobs.

Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul with a gem of an innings managed to master the attack with a gutsy and stylish half century, his 13th in this form of the game. He was last out after a knock of 96 balls.

The Pakistanis had not covered themselves with glory, however, their upper order succumbing to Courtney Walsh (back on familiar territory after the 14 years spent with Gloucestershire) and Dillon, who each picked up three wickets for very few.

Pakistan were in a sad way by the time Wasim Akram brought himself in at six down; with 135 runs on the board the likelihood of reaching 200 looked remote. But the Pakistan captain counter-attacked from the start, cudgelling anything and everything and dragging his partner, Azhar Mahmood, along in his slipstream to take advantage of an attack shorn of the services of Keith Arthurton after the slow left-arm bowler fell awkwardly and damaged a tendon in his left ankle.Thankfully X-rays revealed no fracture. He had only managed one over and his control was sorely missed. It left to Jimmy Adams to shoulder a bigger burden than was probably intended.

It also meant Wasim and Azhar were able to give free rein to their instincts and smash their way out of trouble. Wasim, who has a one-day international average of a shade over 15 runs in his previous 265 appearances in limited overs, went for his shots and reached 43 off 29 balls, having helped add 74 for the seventh wicket.

Wasim had clouted two sixes and four fours by the time he was bowled by Walsh, Azhar having gone the over before to give Curtly Ambrose his one wicket.

Earlier, Ijaz Ahmed had stuck around for 70 balls, but having anchored one end for 36 runs, there was only Yousuf Youhana to provide support at the other as the two of them added 60 for the fifth.

World Cup guide, page 9