Jul 19, 2013 Sports
ESPNcricinfo – The pitches served up for the one-dayers in the West Indies, starting from the tri-series, have largely produced scores of under 250. In the two 300-plus scores, the batsmen were aided more by poor bowling than favourable batting conditions. In the two ODIs so far in this series in Guyana, middle-of-the-road scores in the
region of 220-230 have been match-winning ones. With the series shifting to St Lucia for the three remaining one-dayers, the question is whether the trend of scores will change. Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies captain, is optimistic of higher scores but his team of power-hitters will be relieved only if they get conditions that suit their strengths.
The West Indies batsmen did well to recover from their shocker of a collapse in the first ODI by posting 232. It was a laborious innings for most part till Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard provided the calorie boost towards the end. Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels adopted a conservative approach, preserving wickets instead of taking off. Respecting the conditions, West Indies went with the strategy of setting a 235 target, knowing that would be enough to put pressure on Pakistan’s line-up, which hasn’t been in the best of touch either. Sunil Narine, who was pasted in the first match, bounced back to pick up four wickets.
Pakistan’s batting worries haven’t eased since they set foot in England for the Champions Trophy. The pitches haven’t really helped a line-up low on confidence. Should Pakistan attack at the start or adopt West Indies’ approach of safety first before leaving the acceleration to Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal? It’s a likely dilemma. That they have the bowling to defend a competitive total is beyond doubt.
In the spotlight
Ahmed Shehzad was recalled to the one-day squad after a gap of two years, but it hasn’t been a happy comeback, with scores of 5 and 19. His last five ODI scores make for poor reading – 0,6,9,5,19. He will have fond memories of St Lucia though, where he scored his second ODI century during the 2011 tour, before that slump began. He will be under pressure to perform, having taken Mohammad Hafeez’s place in the opening position.
Since his 109 in the opening match of the tri-series, Chris Gayle has mysteriously tapered off, failing to go past 14 in his next five innings. His no-show at the top, coupled with Marlon Samuels’ struggle is partly responsible for West Indies failing to bat with the fluency they are associated with. In the first ODI, he set off for a single, then hesitated before falling short of a direct hit and in the second, pushed at a delivery outside off and edged to the keeper. If Gayle sets himself up to bat through the innings, it could lend greater stability at the top.
West Indies named an unchanged squad for the three remaining one-dayers, giving Johnson Charles an extended run as the wicketkeeper in Denesh Ramdin’s absence.
Pakistan rested Junaid Khan for the first two ODIs but if he is included, it could potentially be a three-man left-arm seam attack.
To note: Shahid Afridi needs three more sixes for 400 international sixes, while Pakistan have an unbeaten record in ODIs at St Lucia, beating West Indies on all four occasions.
Meanwhile, the West Indies Board’s Selection Panel named the 13-man squad for the St Lucia leg of the five-match One-Day International Series against Pakistan.
The matches will be played at the Beausejour Cricket Ground today, July 19 and Sunday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 24.
The series is level 1-1. Pakistan won the first match by 126 runs while the West Indies rebounded to win the second match by 37 runs at the Guyana National Stadium.
FULL SQUAD: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons and Devon Smith.
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