West Indies, Pakistan arrive in Guyana for ODI battle
By Avenash Ramzan
West Indies and Pakistan arrived in Guyana on Monday afternoon to contest the three-match ODI series, starting on Friday at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.
Fresh off their rivalry in the four-match T20 series in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, the two sides will now go head-to-head in the 50-over format, with all the games slated for Guyana on April 7, 9 and 11. Upon arrival in the country, West Indies captain Jason Holder told local journalists that it is imperative his side gets cracking early in what is a short series.
“It should be a pretty good series. Both teams have something to play for- we obviously need to get ahead in our points standings and in terms of our ICC rankings, so it’s something to look forward to. It’s just a situation where we need to get out and start the series well. It’s a very short series so I think the quicker we start well the better off we will be,” Holder reasoned.
With the squad missing a huge chunk of players currently in India for Wednesday’s start of the VIVO Indian Premier League, Holder believes that the current bunch “has what it takes to beat Pakistan.”
“I think it’s a good squad. Just two changes from the last (ODI) squad. I think we have what it takes to beat Pakistan; we just need to play good cricket,” the all-rounder highlighted.
In the last series played between the sides in Guyana, leg-spinner Shahid Afridi ripped the Caribbean side’s batting apart with 7-12 on the Providence wicket. With Pakistan boasting a young leg-spinning sensation in Shadab Khan, who reaped huge rewards in the T20 series, Holder explained the approach to keeping him at bay.
“You know he caused some trouble in the T20 series, but it’s a new format (now). We need to start well; we have some fresh faces coming in for the first time, it’s important that they see him…we have some video footage of him so it’s important everybody come up with their personal game plan on how they’re going to play him,” Holder explained.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s fielding coach Steve Rixon said the Pakistanis are prepared for whatever is thrown at them during the series, especially on pitches that will be tested for the first time since being re-laid.
“Whether its bounce, whether its spin it’s not really going to be much difference because we cater for both pretty well. We’ve played against both; we don’t have any real problems whether it’s turning or whether it’s got a little bounce in the wicket so bring it on whichever way,” Rixon boasted.
Rixon added that the aim is to constantly improve in the format with the ultimate goal of having a solid combination of players for the Champions Trophy, and the 2019 World Cup.
“It’s been a major concern from the start. Since our groups got together it’s been a major focus on the one day game, something we haven’t played particularly well over the years, but we’re looking forward to the improvement there,” Rixon noted.
Meanwhile, the tourists are currently No. 8 in the ICC’s ODI rankings, holding the final automatic qualification spot for the 2019 World Cup; West Indies are in ninth, with five ranking points separating the sides.
Failure to beat Pakistan would leave West Indies – who will be absent from this year’s Champions Trophy – struggling to catch them ahead of September’s cut-off and facing the prospect of having to come through the ICC Qualifier.