KARACHI: The return of international cricket turned sweeter for fans at the National Stadium in Karachi as Pakistan scripted a sure-footed whitewash on Tuesday against the visiting West Indies in the three-match T20I series.
The West Indies scored 153-6 — their highest total of the series — in the third and final match, with Andre Fletcher (52) scoring the only half-century on this tour for the visitors, while Denesh Ramdin cracked 42 of 18 balls.
But Pakistan chased down the 154-run target in 16.5 overs with eight wickets in hand as in-form opener Babar Azam scored another half-century (51).
Fakhar Zaman provided early momentum to the Sarfraz-led team with his 40 runs off 17 balls, including six fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 235.29.
Middle-order batsmen Hussain Talat and Asif Ali took the innings to the victory stand with their 31-run partnership off 28 balls.
Fakhar Zaman was given the Man of the Match, while Babar Azam was awarded the Man of the Series for his 166 runs across three games.
Pakistan won the first match by 143 runs and the second by 82 runs. The three matches were all played in Karachi, the first international cricket series in the metropolis after a hiatus of nine years.
The series was the latest in a number of steps taken recently to help revive international cricket in Pakistan, which was suspended for years after a 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.
The victory on Tuesday also strengthened Pakistan’s position at the top of the world T20 rankings, with a four-point lead over second-placed Australia.
This was Pakistan’s third T20I series win by 3-0 margin—the most by any team. No other team has managed to clean sweep a three-match T20I series more than twice. It was also the green shirts’ 17th win in the last 20 games and the seventh series win since Sarfraz Ahmed took over as skipper. The green shirts have never lost a series since the wicketkeeper-batsman took over the captaincy in 2016 after World T20.
Babar Azam (51) carried forward the momentum built by Zaman, the in-form batsman posted another half-century in his records, before getting dismissed by Odean Smith.
The breathtaking strokeplay of Fakhar Zaman (40) finally came to an end as the opener edged the ball of Rayad Emrit to the keeper when he tried to flat-bat a delivery towards the leg side.
First Innings – Fletcher, Ramdin lift Windies to fighting total
Fletcher scored 52 off 43 balls, with four boundaries and three sixes on 120.93 strike rate.
Samuels timely assisted the Windies opener with his score of 31 runs.
Successive dismissals by the Pakistani bowlers halted the hosts’ momentum in the middle of their innings but the late blitz by Ramdin (42) extended the score to 153 runs.
Legspinner Shadab Khan took two wickets, while Faheem Ashraf, Muhammad Nawaz and Usman Khan Shinwari bagged one each.
Pakistan made two changes in its squad as Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Shinwari have made their place in the final-playing 11 while fast bowlers Muhammad Amir and Hasan Ali are being rested.
But Denesh Ramdin slammed down the Pakistani death-over bowling with his cameo blitz. In just 18 balls, the tailender smashed 42 runs, with three sixes and four boundaries.