Edgy Pakistan see off Windies
Pakistan survived an early-innings scare to begin their ICC Champions Trophy campaign with a nervous five-wicket victory over West Indies at the Wanderers.
Three wickets apiece for Mohammad Aamer and Umar Gul looked to have set Pakistan up for an easy win after they bowled their opponents out for a paltry 133 in 34.3 overs, despite Nikita Miller's 51.
But Gavin Tonge (4-25) posed a constant threat, reducing Pakistan to 76 for five before Umar Akmal (41 not out) and Shahid Afridi (17 not out) led their side home with almost 20 overs to spare.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the second-string Caribbean team began poorly, losing Dale Richards after just six balls when he pushed a return catch to Aamer, who finished with 3-24.
Andre Fletcher was next to go, lifting Rana Naved-ul-Hasan over his head for four before succumbing to the same bowler four balls later, caught by Imran Nazir at backward point for seven.
Aamer then had Travis Dowlin caught behind in the next over as West Indies slumped to 14 for three.
Devon Smith edged Gul to Umar Akmal at second slip to depart for 18, David Bernard had his off stump uprooted by Aamer, and Floyd Reifer edged Gul to Misbah-ul-Haq at first slip for seven.
Chadwick Walton was trapped leg before by the next delivery, but Miller confidently drove the hat-trick ball away through the cover for four.
A 38-run partnership then followed before Darren Sammy was bowled for 25 by Saeed Ajmal, who ended with 2-16.
The batting powerplay was then taken and Miller made the most of it, taking three fours off Ajmal’s second over to help his side pass 100 in the 27th over.
He lost partner Tino Best, stumped for eight by Kamran Akmal off Ajmal, but went on to raise his half-century from 51 balls.
But with partners fast running out, he went for one shot too many and perished to Afridi to bring the innings to a close with more than 15 overs remaining.
In response, the World Twenty20 champions lost two early wickets – both to the lively Tonge, who bowled Nazir with his first ball and then enticed Kamran Akmal into a big waft that was edged behind to Walton.
But Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf calmed nerves by taking Pakistan to the break at 35 for two.
After the resumption Tonge and his wicketkeeper twice combined to get rid of the pair – both for 23 – while Bernard accounted for Misbah in similar fashion as Pakistan slumped to 76 for five in the 23rd over.
There was no twist in the tale, though, with Umar Akmal and Afridi guiding their side over the line with an unbeaten 58-run stand.