SHARJAH: Fast-rising Babar Azam cracked a second successive hundred to guide Pakistan to a dominant 59-run win over the West Indies in the second one-day international in Sharjah, gaining an unbeatable 2-0 lead in three-match series.
Azam’s brilliant 126-ball 123 formed the cornerstone of Pakistan’s big 337-5 which also featured half-centuries from Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed at Sharjah stadium on Sunday.
West Indies put on an improved show in reply, but fell short after finishing on 278-7 from their 50 overs with Darren Bravo hitting 61 and Marlon Samuels scoring 57.
The win leaves the final match — in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday — of little interest.
West Indies needed to improve on their best chase of 285 against Pakistan which came in 1993 at this same venue, but Pakistan’s varied attack kept them at bay.
Bravo added 89 for the second wicket with Kraig Brathwaite (39) after Johnson Charles was removed for two in the second over by Mohammad Amir.
Bravo hit three towering sixes and five boundaries off 74 balls before he was smartly run out by paceman Hasan Ali who knocked the stumps at the non-striker’s end after the batsman aimed for a quick single.
Samuels also tried his valiant best during his 52-ball 57 spiced with four boundaries and two sixes and added 67 for the fourth wicket with Denesh Ramdin (34) before fiery pace bowler Wahab Riaz (2-48) removed both in successive overs.
Kieron Pollard, playing his 100th one-day international, made 22 and Jason Holder, who scored 31 not out, found the going tough as West Indies needed 121 in the last 10 overs and 87 in last five.
Earlier Azam anchored Pakistan’s highest one-day total against the West Indies, beating the 307-8 they made at Perth nine years ago.
Azam added 169 for the third wicket with Malik who missed his ninth one-day hundred by 10 runs, scoring an attractive 84-ball 90 with six hits over the fence and three boundaries.
It was another dominating batting display by Pakistan, with Azam and Malik shredding the West Indian bowling at will, and Sarfraz Ahmed finishing it with 47-ball 60 not out.
Azam reached his second one-day international hundred with a single off Carlos Brathwaite, waving his bat and bowing down in delight. He was finally caught off paceman Alzarri Joseph at long-on in the 46th over.
Malik was also ruthless as he reached his 38th half-century off 55 balls before hitting three successive sixes off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, one went out of the Sharjah stadium.
Azam and Malik steadied the innings after openers Azhar Ali (nine) and Sharjeel Khan (24) fell in the space of three deliveries with the total at 40.
Ahmed, who hit seven fours, helped Azam add another 73 for the fourth wicket as Pakistan added 97 in the last ten overs and 55 in the last five.Joseph and Holder took two wickets apiece.
Azhar Ali lbw b Holder 9
Sharjeel Khan c Holder b Joseph 24
Babar Azam c C. Brathwaite b Joseph 123
Shoaib Malik c Bravo b Narine 90
Sarfraz Ahmed not out 60
Imad Wasim b Holder 11
Mohammad Rizwan not out 6
Extras: (lb2, w12) 14
Total: (for five wkts; 50 overs) 337
Did not bat: Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali
Fall of wickets: 1-40 (Ali), 2-40 (Sharjeel), 3-209 (Malik), 4-282 (Azam), 5-320 (Wasim)
Bowling: Holder 8-1-51-2 (5w), Joseph 10-0-62-2 (6w), C. Brathwaite 8-0-60-0, Narine 8-0-39-1 (1w), Benn 8-0-61-0, K. Brathwaite 3-0-18-0, Pollard 5-0-44-0
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J. Charles c Wasim b Amir 2
K. Brathwaite run out 39
D. Bravo run out 61
M. Samuels b Riaz 57
D. Ramdin b Riaz 34
K. Pollard c Malik b Wasim 22
C. Brathwaite run out 14
J. Holder not out 31
S. Narine not out 1
Extras: (lb8, w9) 17
Total: (for seven wkts; 50 overs) 278
Did not bat: S. Benn, A. Joseph
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Charles), 2-92 (K. Brathwaite), 3-127 (Bravo), 4-194 (Samuels), 5-209 (Ramdin), 6-231 (C. Brahwaite), 7-273 (Pollard)
Bowling: Wasim 10-0-62-1, Amir 9-0-49-1 (2w), Hasan 9-0-56-0 (2w), Riaz 10-0-48-2 (3w), Malik 5-2-16-0, Nawaz 7-0-39-0 (2w)
Result: Pakistan win by 59 runs
Man of the Match: Babar Azam