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Old 9th April 2017, 08:37   #1
Peaceful
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Arrow Innings Of Jason Mohammads Dreams

The innings of Jason Mohammed's dreams

Jason Mohammed compiled his career-best performance to help West Indies record their first-ever 300+ chase in ODIs

"Where have you been all these years?" This was the question by Ramiz Raja that greeted the Man of the Match Jason Mohammed following his astounding, unbeaten 91 that guided the West Indies to a highly improbable victory over Pakistan. It was the question Viv Richards, returning from West Indies duties to captain the Leeward Islands, asked Curtly Ambrose who had shot out of the blue to snatch wickets and break bones in the 1988 regional Red Stripe Cup. It was the question many cricket followers were asked after Shikar Dhawan's barely believable 187-run assault on the Australians in his Test debut in Mohali in March 2013.

The question was not out of place. Mohammed is, after all, 30-years-old, and though he had represented the West Indies against India in Chennai way back in December 2011, you might not have heard of him unless you paid close attention to regional cricket in the Caribbean. And even if you had, it is likely you'd have been as surprised as everyone else was after he played an innings of such quality and import.

A few pundits reported that the Trinidadian played the innings of his life. That may be true, at least up to this point in his life. But he played with such composure, skill and aplomb, that you'd bet good money he'll be able to play in like manner again. As far as batsmen go, 30 is not at all old. Just ask Michael Hussey and Chris Rogers. Mohammed might still have a long way to go.

With the West Indies needing 309 to win, not many gave them much of a chance to even get close, especially after stretches of pedestrian batting that saw the required run-rate climb up to well over nine. This was understandable. It's not like the West Indies had big hitters like Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard or Dwayne Bravo in their line-up. This was more of a second-string team, lacking all the major stars, who were otherwise occupied in the IPL.

This team was not supposed to have the capacity to construct a record-breaking pursuit of Pakistan's 308, the highest total successfully chased by the West Indies. An unknown batsman like Jason Mohammed was not supposed to score West Indies' second-fastest half-century (off 31 deliveries) against Pakistan (the fastest was scored by the great Viv Richards). Pakistan's bowling, with their wealth of express, and high-caliber fast bowlers and deceitful spinners were supposed to be too good for this inexperienced bunch, even on a surface that posed no terrors for the batsmen.

Mohammed simply exceeded the expectations. It can't be said that he broke the door down demanding selection. Had the big stars been available, he most certainly would not have played. But with this latest innings, Mohammed has shown he belongs. If he is able to maintain this level of batting, he will own the spot for a long time.

The former West Indies U-19 player made his debut over ten years ago, playing in a home game for Trinidad and Tobago against Jamaica and has been in and around the team all this while. With inconsistency plaguing his progress, it is unlikely he ever entered the selectors thoughts for higher honours in that format.

Having made his List-A debut in January 2007, he has been a slightly better performer in limited-overs cricket. A good 2011-12 season, in which he scored two fifties in five games and averaged 56.75, awarded him a ticket on the 2011-12 tour of India. Since then, he has only been good in patches and was rightly ignored by the selectors.

But then that changed during the 2016-17 season. He compiled a well-made 105 in October 2016 for West Indies A on the tour of Sri Lanka, and then averaged 62.5 from nine matches in the regional Super 50 tournament. His growth as a player was evident, especially when you add the impression he made during the 2016 CPL.

All that came before, however, was simply a build-up to Friday. It paved the way for his greatest achievement, his greatest day. All those days of relative mediocrity must now fade and he will now aspire to exceed the expectations he set on April 7.

Joining the action at 156/3 in the 33rd over, with 153 runs needed from 107 balls, Mohammed began like a man who understood the urgency of the situation. His first boundary came by way of an edged stroke to the third man boundary. Then, with the cover and mid-off fielders positioned within the 30-yard circle, the batsman profited by going aerial in that region. One shot lofted straight over the umpire's head off Hasan Ali was memorable for its effortlessness. The batsman showed that he too enjoyed the shot by holding the pose longer than usual, left elbow to the sky.

Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz bowled at pace; Mohammad was in no way daunted. Riaz was pulled and cut for fours in the same over, while Amir was pulled over long off and into the stands for six one ball, and then driven high, into the same area, two balls later. The next delivery was flicked for four and 17 came off that over.

Later, while accepting his award, he revealed that he targeted Pakistan's seamers. And the majority of his runs were indeed made off the faster bowlers. But he handled the spinners expertly too, milking their bowling for singles and twos, and striking boundaries off Imad Wasim given the slightest opportunity. All throughout his innings, Mohammed hit the ball cleanly, timed it impeccably and located the gaps with a high degree of precision.

As West Indies raced towards an outstanding victory, Ashley Nurse, who replaced Jason Holder with the score on 259, did most of the scoring, slamming 34 off 15 deliveries and denying his colleague the chance of reaching what would have been a well-deserved century. His partner would not have been bothered the least, securing the win was what mattered. If he bats similarly, he might still have many opportunities.

West Indies recently lost all three ODIs they contested against the visiting England team. One of the positives emerging from that series was the batting of Mohammed, who had scores of 72 and 50 in the first two games. He played well then, and, in some ways, his batting against England was a foretelling of this innings. Still, most would not have believed his batting could have the heights one saw it ascend to on Friday. It is indeed the kind of innings he'd have played in his dreams.

http://m.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/9...hammeds-dreams
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