As Windies look to end ODI series with win today
By Sean Devers
The belated return of Ramnaresh Sarwan coincided with West Indies’ first ODI win against Pakistan in nine matches, albeit after the five-match Digicel home series was already lost three-nil and the victory was aided by the weather.
The one-run win on the Duckworth/Lewis system at Kensington Oval in the fourth ODI last Monday could have gone the other way if the skies had remained clear after Pakistan, batting first for the first time in the series, made 248-9 off 50 overs, the highest total of the low-scoring series.
Lendl Simmons, who averages 50 with three fifties in four matches, continued his impressive series with 76 and shared important partnerships with Sarwan who made 28 and Darren Bravo who scored 21 as the host set a revised target of 223 off 39 overs, reached 154-4 off 29.5 overs when rain ended the contest..
Such has been the home team’s batting woes that Darren Bravo (147 runs) is the only batsman apart from Simmons with a half-century in this series. No other West Indian has passed 60 runs as the Windies lost twice in St Lucia and once in Barbados before their win, which according to Skipper Darren Sammy, has given the team some confidence ahead of today’s game at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence.
Despite the poor run by the home team and the seemingly non-stop off the field controversies, the game has been sold out and a capacity crowd of over 15,000 should be on hand on a national holiday in Guyana to celebrate the 173rd anniversary of the arrival of the first batch of Indian indentured servants to Guyana.
Good enough in limited overs cricket to have scored two fifties against South Africa before he was appointed Captain, Sammy’s lack of runs or wickets as Skipper has effectively resulted in the West Indies playing a 10-man team.
Sammy has just managed 28 runs from three matches against Sri Lanka, 54 from seven in the World Cup and 50 from the first four in this series after making an unbeaten 29 in the opening match. The Medium pacer failed to take a wicket in the three match series against Sri Lanka, got eight in the World Cup and is yet to take one in this series.
Despite scoring 10 runs and taking two wickets at an average of 75.50 in his three Tests as Captain, Sammy said yesterday that he was not concerned about his personal performance.
“I am going through a bad patch and obviously want to see better performances from my self and especially the batsmen, but I am one match away from a good performance. I am the only St Lucian to play International cricket so there is some pressure…..International cricket is always pressure,” Sammy said.
West Indies has not beaten a Test side ranked higher than them since June 2009 and have lost three of their five games at Providence but Sammy feels Monday’s win in Barbados could be the momentum the team needs to start moving forward.
“The way we chased down the target was encouraging and the batting improved especially in the manner we rotated the strike and did not get out to the spinners,” Sammy said.
The Captain praised the consistency of Simmons and said Sarwan’s experience in the middle order also helped against the spinners. He also said young Bravo has been batting well without getting more big scores and feels the attitude of his team to their training sessions is a good sign.
Sammy was high in praise for 25-year-old Guyanese leg-spinner Davendra Bishoo who has taken ten wickets in the series so far and 14 in seven ODIs since making his debut in the World Cup.
The Skipper also mentioned the good work of Ravi Rampaul, who in 2003 became the first Indian fast bowler to play an ODI for the West Indies. Sammy said he was pleased with the bowling performance even during the World Cup when they restricted teams to small scores but failed to fire with the bat.
Pakistan, who failed to reach the second stage of 2007 World Cup when they were last in the Caribbean have never won more than three games in any ODI series against the West Indies and the Regional side will be pressing for a consolation win today as they prepare for the two-Test series which starts here next Thursday.
While Sarwan was recalled for the fourth ODI the selectors have kept the same squad from Barbados, as the experienced Shiv Chanderpaul, only behind Brain Lara among West Indian run-scorers in Tests, was again not being selected although he should be an automatic pick for the Tests.
The news that Chanderpaul, who averages 48.98 in Tests, 54.26 in First-Class and 41.60 with 11 centuries and 59 fifties in ODIs, reportedly declined the offer to play a farewell match today and retire from ODIs, was broken on CBC Radio in Barbados and confirmed by a WICB source.
Chanderpaul, whose most success in ODIs has come as an opener, has since publicly denied that he was asked to play today and declined the offer and Kirk Edwards could again open with Simmons.
The sun was out in all its brilliance yesterday and despite all the negatives and the forecast for scattered thunderstorms today, Providence should be ‘rocking’ all day even if many of the fans could be supporting Pakistan and anti-WICB signs displayed.
Darren Bravo is one of the few West Indian batsmen who still bring fans to the ground and if he concentrates harder when set and Sarwan and Marlon Samuels find form, the contest against the Pakistan spinners could be riveting.
Carlton Baugh, Dwayne Bravo and Sammy will also be expected to contribute with the bat, while the hosts could explore the option of bringing in leg-spinner Anthony Martin and give Kemar Roach, who should be the spearhead of the pace attack in the Test series, some rest today on what should be a low and slow track.
Misbah-ul-Haq, who will lead the Test side, has 183 runs in four innings including 73 not out, 43 not out, and 62 not out while opener Mohammed Hafeez who scored his second ODI century on Monday has looked very solid.
Ahmed Shehzad and Asad Shafiq have also batted well for the visitors, while Hammad Azam and Usman Salahuddin who made his debut in the last game, will also want some runs today.
Shahid Afridi’s batting has been ‘hit or miss’ in recent times but he can be explosive if he gets going while the Pakistan bowling could be done by Tanvir Ahmed and Junaid Khan with the new ball along with spinners Saeed Ajmal, Afridi and Hafeez.
The match starts at 09:30hrs and the on-field Umpires are Asoka de Silva and Norman Malcolm.
Fans are being encouraged to get to the venue early (gates open at 07:30hrs) while no glass bottles or weapons will be allowed inside the venue.
Meanwhile, the WICB has informed that due to the venue being sold out the game will be shown live on local television.
Squads: (West Indies) Daren Sammy (Captain), Daren Bravo, Carlton Baugh†, Davendra Bishoo, Dwayne Bravo, Kirk Edwards, Anthony Martin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons†
Pakistan) Shahid Afridi (Captain), Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Hammad Azam, Junaid Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Salman†, Sadaf Hussain, Saeed Ajmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Taufeeq Umar, Umar Akmal, Usman Salahuddin, Wahab Riaz
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