Pakistan 208 for 3 (Rizwan 87, Babar 79, Smith 1-34) beat West Indies 207 for 3 (Pooran 64, Brooks 49, King 43, Wasim 2-44) by seven wickets
Yet another clinical display from Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam powered Pakistan to their highest successful chase in T20I cricket as they beat West Indies by seven wickets in the third T20I in Karachi.
Batting first on a well-rolled surface, West Indies rode on Nicholas Pooran's 37-ball 64 and breezy 40s from Brandon King and Shamarh Brooks to post a challenging 207 for 3. But a 158-run stand between Rizwan and Babar, in just 15.1 overs, all but ensured a 3-0 scoreline.
Babar contributed 79 off 53 balls, while Rizwan was the aggressor, hitting 87 off just 45 with the help of ten fours and three sixes. During his knock, Rizwan also completed 2000 runs in T20 cricket this year. When the winning runs were scored, Pakistan still had seven balls remaining.
Earlier in the day, the game was put in jeopardy after Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, and Justin Greaves tested positive for Covid-19 but both teams decided to go ahead with the match.
That, however, meant West Indies had to field a severely depleted side, as they were already without Sheldon Cottrell, Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers - all three had tested positive at the start of the tour - and Devon Thomas, who has a finger injury. The still put up their best performances of the series but it wasn't enough to prevent a whitewash.
King's birthday bash
On his 27th birthday, King decided to throw caution to the wind. He opened his account with back-to-back fours off Mohammad Nawaz in the first over. On both occasions, he gave himself room and hit the ball through the off side. That remained his modus operandi for most of his innings even as he didn't middle the ball all the time.
Nawaz came in for more punishment in his next over. First, Brooks drilled him past mid-on and then King hit the last three balls of the over for six, four and four. From the other end, King fetched three fours across Mohammad Hasnain's two overs, and as a result, West Indies motored to fifty in just 4.2 overs.
On the penultimate ball of the powerplay, King once again backed away and launched Mohammad Wasim Jr for a 98-metre six, the ball landing on the roof of the deep-midwicket stands. Wasim, though, made a comeback the very next ball, uprooting King's off stump as the batter failed in his attempt to late-cut a fuller delivery.
Brooks cuts loose
West Indies finished the powerplay on 66 for 1. Brooks, who was batting on 21 off 16 balls at that point, decided it was his turn to cut loose. He skipped down the track against Nawaz but ended up skying it towards long-on, where Iftikhar Ahmed and Hasnain, running in from long-off, messed up their calling, and despite both fielders next to each other, neither got their hands to the ball.
Shadab Khan ended up paying the price for that drop as Brooks hit him for three sixes in four balls in the next over. But just like King, he too fell short of his half-century. Shahnawaz Dahani hurried him with a short ball and had him caught at deep midwicket.
Pooran propels WI further
The Pakistan bowlers had bowled West Indies out in the first two T20Is but on Thursday night, there was no respite for them. With two left-handers in the middle, Babar Azam tried to sneak in an over of offspin from Iftikhar but Pooran thumped him for two sixes.
He was equally belligerent against Hasnain, whom he took for 19 off six balls, including two sixes and a four. Pooran's assault meant West Indies didn't lose the momentum despite Darren Bravo struggling on 17 off 16 balls at one stage. Pooran brought up his half-century off 31 balls but after his dismissal, West Indies could score only 15 off the remaining 14 balls.
The Babar-Rizwan show
Chasing a daunting total, Babar and Rizwan didn't have the luxury of time to get their eye in. But the two are in such good form that without taking any risk, they kept striking at around ten an over throughout their partnership. There were drives through covers and down the wicket, sweeps along the ground and over the infield, and hard-run ones and twos. Rizwan was the first to reach his half-century, off just 26 balls; Babar took 40 balls to bring up his.
While Rizwan did heave a couple over deep square leg, apart from slog-sweeping debutant Gudakesh Motie, Babar didn't hit his first six until the 13th over. That too when Oshane Thomas provided the necessary pace. Clearing his front leg, he creamed Thomas over the wide long-off boundary before hitting the next two balls for fours.
The only chance that came West Indies' way was when Babar went to cut Motie in the seventh over, but Pooran put down the outside edge. Babar was on 28 then, Pakistan on 62. Babar eventually fell to Odean Smith, hitting a knuckle ball to long-off, when Pakistan needed 50 from five overs.
The finishing touches
If West Indies were thinking of a comeback, Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman didn't let that happen. When Rizwan miscued a full toss from Dominic Drakes with Pooran taking the catch near short fine leg, the equation had come down to 24 needed from 16 balls. Asif Ali (21* off 7) then hit a flurry of boundaries to level the scores. With one run required, Romario Shepherd had Asif skying the ball towards long-on where Rovman Powell dropped the catch. That one ball encapsulated the series from West Indies' point of view: this young bunch has the potential but they still need to work on their skills.