Pakistan seek to grab series against WI SHARJAH: Brimming with confidence, Pakistan will look to claim the ODI series against a very much battered West Indies when they clash in the second match of the three-game rubber here on Sunday.
The Azhar Ali-led Pakistan outclassed the Caribbean side in all departments by handing them a 111-run thrashing in the series opener at the same venue on Friday with young top-order batsman Babar Azam (120) and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (4-42) shining in the day-night game at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Though the one mighty West Indies still hold an edge over Pakistan in the teams’ overall head-to-head record in ODIs (128 matches, Pakistan won 56, West Indies won 69, tied 3), the present outfit led by a novice Jason Holder is indeed no match to their glorious Caribbean predecessors of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s.
It seems, the series — after witnessing the first ODI — against a feeble-looking West Indies would not come at a better time for Azhar and company who dearly want to record victories this year and 2017 in order to avoid playing qualification round in the 2019 World Cup.
A series win for ninth-ranked Pakistan, whose ODI show after the 2015 World Cup experienced an alarming dip under Azhar, would surely lift the spirit of the team and head coach Mickey Arthur who during Pakistan’s recent ODI series in England explicitly cautioned the under-performing senior players to shape up or face the axe.
For Pakistan, it’s good news that finally at least their young guns — including Babar, Nawaz, Imad Wasim (the T20 series hero) and Sharjeel Khan — are showing clear signs of improvement in their game.
And Pakistan, who have been extraordinarily unpredictable over the years, would try their level best to grab the series on Sunday.
The West Indies, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do if they want to remain alive in the series.
If the absence of big-hitting Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy, the two-time World Twenty20 winning captain, from top-level international cricket action was not enough, the stunning axing of experienced all-rounder Dwayne Bravo from the ODI team for the Pakistan ODIs, has only added to the frailty of the West Indies who literally proved to be a punching bag for Pakistan in the first ODI.
Just a few days ago, Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan recorded a comprehensive 3-0 T20 series clean-weep over the West Indies, the reigning world champions of the shortest format.
While the West Indies clearly lacked in all departments of the game, batting was their biggest flop with only experienced middle-order batsmen Marlon Samuels (46 off 59) offering some resistance in a lost cause.
Their batsmen somehow would have to find a way to deal with the left-arm spin duo of Imad and Nawaz. Even an inexperienced pacer Hasan Ali (3-14 in 5.4) troubled the West Indies.
A batting line-up that includes Samuels, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Johnson Charles would need to raise their game if they are to test Pakistan who in all probability would once again test their opponents in Sharjah.