West Indies eye historic Test series win over Pakistan
Before the first Test, not many would have believed that West Indies, especially given the fragility of their batting and Pakistan’s versatility with the ball, would have been in the driver’s seat and on the cusp of sealing a memorable series win.
It has been 21 years since the West Indies had a Test series win over Pakistan and the calm nerves that shepherd them to a thrilling win in the first Test, will be needed again, given the rarity of the occasion.
The second and final Test bowls off at 11:00h on Friday at Sabina Park, Jamaica.
In February 2019, West Indies defeated England 2-1; it was the first time since 2014, they won a Test series against a higher-ranked nation.
Now another chance is on the cards against fifth-placed Pakistan, but West Indies have not won a Test series against Pakistan since May 2000. The six series after, Pakistan have won four and drawn two.
West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite, a most nonchalant character with a bat in hand, does not want the situation to get the best of the players and posited they must remain calm and execute their plans yet again.
“The key is to stay calm and be disciplined; like a bowling group, it was fantastic and it is just to come back and do that again”, the skipper stated on the eve of today’s second and final Test.
“As a batting group, we know partnerships are key, and I think the result will speak for itself once we focus on small targets. Patience is key on a pitch like the first Test and once we do those things right, the result will take care of itself.”
In the first Test, spinners bowled 41 wicketless overs for 139 runs and West Indies’ left-armer Jomel Warrican bowled just eight overs in the match and went for 32 runs.
Despite Brathwaite confirming the pitch looks very similar to the first Test, he could not say whether they would opt for an extra pacer at the expense of Warrican. There are Alzarri Joseph and Chemar Holder on the bench.
The success stories of the memorable Bangladesh tour in February are short of runs, and the skipper said he is backing batsmen Nkrumah Bonner and Kyle Mayers to rekindle their form after some low scores as well in the preceding series against South Africa.
Since Bonner made 113* in March against Sri Lanka, his scores have been 0, 10, 0 and 5, while Mayers since his 55 in March as well, has gone 1, 12, 12, 34, 0 and 0.
Pressure is at the top too, as opener Kieran Powell, who came back in the Test team after a hiatus since November 2018, has scores of 14, 5, 51, 0 and 4. Luckily for Powell and unfortunately for West Indies, the competition for places in that position is quite weak currently.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Rizwan, wicketkeeper-batsman and vice-captain of Pakistan men’s Test team expects his side to do well in the second Test.
While talking to media via videoconference call Rizwan said, “The last Test match was a great game of cricket. Everyone was on their toes. It was a very rare sight but unfortunately, we lost in the end.
“We have left the defeat behind and are now aiming to win the next game starting tomorrow (today) and level the series.”
West Indies provisional squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Kieran Powell, Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Jomel Warrican, Shamarh Brooks, Rahkeem Cornwall, Chemar Holder, Jahmar Hamilton
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-capt, wk), Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Yasir Shah, Zahid Mahmood.