Babar Azam scored his 17th ODI century and helped Pakistan beat West Indies by five wickets in the opening ODI at Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday night.

Khushdil Shah played an aggressive knock of 41 runs to finish off a 306-runs chase against the visitors in style.

In the twilight phase of the second innings, Pakistan faced a tough situation after they lost in-form skipper Babar. However, Khusdhil stood firm with his firepower knock to take Pakistan over the victory line.

Khushdil’s eye-catching innings were laced with four sixes and a boundary. He smashed Romario Shepherd for three sixes in a row in 47th over to change the scenario.

Earlier, centurion Shai Hope and Shamarh Brooks were on song as they set the tone for West Indies to score 305-8 against Pakistan in the opening ODI of three-match series.

Setting perfect momentum for West Indies after they opted to bat first, Hope and Brooks stayed long at the crease to put the home side under pressure.

Attacking shots and aggressive mindset must have amused almost a full house in Multan stadium but the fans really wanted to see their team making a comeback.

After Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up Kyle Mayers for just nine runs, Pakistan generated hope of getting tourists to bowl out earlier. But, Hope shattered the hopes of the men in green by scoring his 12th ODI century.

Hope and Brooks scored 154 runs together, registering the second-highest second-wicket partnership at Multan Stadium. The highest is 159 runs between Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock which they scored back in 2007.

A twist was needed in the game as fans were chanting ‘out, out, out’, generating a mesmerizing chorus voice in the ground. And, finally, the twist came on the last ball of 31st over when Shadab Khan took a blinder at short third man. 

In form Brooks edged off Mohammad Nawaz and never knew he had to walk off in such a way. Shadab stretched for full-length dive to take a one-handed blinder.

The right-handed batter scored 70 runs off 83 balls including seven boundaries.

It was Brook, who got out but the real threat in the form of Hope was looming over Babar Azam XI. He went on to score runs and completed his 12th century of 118 balls. Also, this magnificent performance helped him break the highest runs record of his countrymen and former West Indian captain Richie Richardson.

In 1987, Richardson had scored the highest 110 runs in ODIs in Pakistan. However, Hope is now the new highest ODI run-scorer in Pakistan with 127 off 134 balls laced with 15 boundaries and a maximum.

Pakistan made a comeback in the field but Romario Shepherd (25) and Rovman Powell (32) smacked the Pakistani bowlers to race West Indies’ score once again.

Haris Rauf remained expensive for conceding 77 runs off his 10 overs but also took four wickets. Afridi bagged two wickets while Shadab and Nawaz shared a wicket apiece. Hasan Ali went wicket-less and conceded 68 runs in 10 overs.

In reply, Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman early, but Babar alongside Imam-ul-Haq scored 103 runs off 111 balls together as Pakistan ensured a tough competition ahead.

Imam departed after scoring 65 off 71 balls, his maiden half-century in his birth city. Mohammad Rizwan also contributed 59 runs as Pakistan’s base was built strongly.

Khushdil remained not out for 41 runs laced with four maximums. His innings reminded the crowd of his PSL 6 innings.

Alzarri Joseph bagged two wickets for the West Indies. Jayden Seales, Shepherd and Akeal Hosein shared a wicket apiece. 

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