The West Indies and Pakistan will lock horns in the third and the final One-Day International at Guyana on Tuesday evening.
By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, April 11, 2017 (SNN 24/7) – The three-match ODI series is currently squared at 1-1 as the 26-year-long legacy is at stake for Pakistan. The West Indies last defeated in a bilateral ODI series in 1991 and since then it has been a one-way traffic.
Both teams are coming into this series finale with a disappointing recent form as both have won only once in their last five ODIs. The two teams also are struggling to find an automatic place in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England. The battle is on for the last berth, which currently is in Pakistan’s possession.
A victory for the West Indies in the third ODI would only be a confidence-booster because it would not be enough to topple Pakistan from the eighth position in the ICC ODI Rankings for Teams. On the contrary, a victory for Pakistan in Guyana would further boost their chances of qualifying directly into the ICC flagship event.
West Indies banking on youth
Now the question here is that who will steal the limelight in Guyana on Tuesday. The West Indies are lacking quality cricketers in their line-up as top of their best cricketing talent is currently busy making money in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL). Sunil Narine, Carlos Brathwaite, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, and Samuel Badree are all in India these days playing for franchise-based T20 league instead of representing their country.
As a result, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has to rely totally on the new and young talent. Although, Evin Lewis and Jason Mohammed have shown some form and grit with the bat, the bowling unit has failed to threaten Pakistan.
Pakistan in a psychological fix
On the other hand, Pakistan have problems of their own, largely due to their psychological fix. Pakistani batsmen don’t have the technique and skills to rotate strike in the middle overs and score big totals consistently. Apart from Babar Azam, Kamran Akmal, and Shoaib Malik, the other batsmen look like playing for their places in the team. Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez have scored a half-century each in the series but their strike rates have been depressing.
Coach Mickey Arthur has been stressing on the need to improve the batsmen’s strike rates to ensure success in the limited overs cricket. However, not a lot has happened in the mindset of Pakistani batsmen which is shaking the confidence of the unit.
For some reason unknown to a majority, Pakistani batsmen have failed to come out of their psychological fix and are finding it hard to maintain bullish strike rates. Only then can make the sun shine more for them by sheer hard work and better application of their skills, especially during the middle overs.
Positives for Pakistan
Despite all the noise and criticism on the lower strike rates, Pakistan have something to be bullish about. And that’s the great batting form of Babar Azam and wicket-taking ability of Hasan Ali. The two players have been the standout players for Pakistan in the series. Shoaib Malik is another batsman who has done his bit in patches while skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is looking under tremendous captaincy pressure.
Guyana Playing Conditions
The ODI series finale will be played on the same pitch which was used for the second ODI, which showed a bit of wear and tear. The ball stuck on the surface more when compared with the opening ODI. The conditions are suiting perfectly for the slow-arm bowlers while wrist-spinners like Shadab Khan and Devendra Bishoo will once again be in the limelight.
Pakistan are likely to go with the winning combination whereas West Indies might have to make one change as their fast bowler Shannon Gabriel is nursing an injury and he is likely to be replaced by Miguel Cummins.
DISCLAIMER: This news was first published on SportsNewsNetwork24/7.