A muted West Indies team displayed little of the bluster that made them World champions, as they slumped to a disappointing six-wicket loss to Pakistan in the opening Twenty20 International of the four-match series in Barbados on Sunday.
In what appeared to be an extension of the malaise which condemned them to a 3-0 whitewash to the same side in the United Arab Emirates last September, West Indies struggled to get going and could only muster a paltry 111 for eight off their 20 overs at Kensington Oval.
Only Captain Carlos Brathwaite with an unbeaten 34 looked the part and he was the lone batsman to pass 20, in another anemic batting effort.
The hosts were stunned by the guile of debutant teenaged leg-spinner Shadab Khan who claimed three for seven in four superb overs and Man-of-the-Match honours.
In reply, Pakistan never really looked in danger and overcame a few early hiccups to reach their target in the 18th over, with the ever dependable Shoaib Malik taking the visitors over the line with an unbeaten 38 off 29 balls.
Babar Azam, who shot to prominence with a string of one-day hundreds against West Indies last year, made 29 while shotgun Kamran Akmal struck 22.
Seamer Jason Holder was the best bowler with two for 27.
Hoping to erase the memories of their whitewash after being sent in, West Indies looked full of intent when left-hander Evin Lewis deposited off-spinner Mohammed Hafeez over the mid-wicket ropes in just the second over.
But his fireworks were short-lived as he was run out by Ahmed Shezad’s direct hit from the deep, as he galloped back for a fateful second run in the next over, with the score on 13.
Chadwick Walton (18) then added 22 for the second wicket with Marlon Samuels who made seven before being harshly adjudged lbw to left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, off one which would have missed leg.
His dismissal opened the floodgates as West Indies inexplicably lost five wickets for 14 runs in a devastating 26-ball slide.
The 18-year-old Shadab proved incisive, removing Walton — plumb lbw and Lendl Simmons (1) bowled dragging on an attempted sweep — in his first-ever over in international cricket and the eighth of the innings.
Languishing on 49 for six, West Indies were rescued by two partnerships as Brathwaite put on 25 for the seven wicket with Kieron Pollard (14) and a further 37 for the eighth wicket with Holder (14).
Brathwaite, who equalled his highest T20 score, faced 27 balls and struck two fours and two sixes.
In reply, Pakistan lost Shezad for 13, gloving a lifter from Holder behind to wicketkeeper Walton at 25 for one in the fifth. Akmal threatened briefly, lashing three fours and a six in a breezy 17-ball knock before picking out Lewis at deep mid-wicket with leg-spinner Samuel Badree in the sixth over.
And when Hafeez (5) frustratedly skied a catch back to seamer Brathwaite, Pakistan were stumbling on 49 for three in the ninth over and West Indies were eyeing a way back.
However, Shoaib arrived to be the steadying influence, anchoring a match-winning 46-run, fourth wicket partnership with Azam to put Pakistan on the brink of victory.
Playing on familiar turf — the home base of Barbados Tridents who he represents in the Caribbean Premier League — the right-hander calmly killed off any lingering West Indies hopes in a knock that included three fours and one six while Azam counted three fours off 30 deliveries.
By the time Azam carved Holder to Rovman Powell at short third man in the 15th over at 95 for four, the Windies fight had already been extinguished.
The series will head to Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad for the remaining thee games, the first of which will be played today.The other matches will be played on Saturday and Sunday.