Pakistan will lock Horns with West Indies once again for three-match Test series. The opening Test is scheduled on 13th October at Dubai International Cricket Stadium as the Men in Green seeks another series Whitewash.
It has been more than three weeks since the Caribbean side set its foot in the United Arab Emirates but they are still seeking their maiden win. The World T20 champions just six months ago are clean swept twice by the inconsistent Pakistan side.
However, the Asian giants were number one in the ICC Test rankings a few weeks ago and still flying high. They put up solid display in England, eventually levelling the Test series against the English side. With the Aussies being clean swept by Sri Lanka and India failing to seal their series by a 3-0 margin, Pakistan leaped to number one.
Misbah Ul Haq and his men conquered England in the first Test at Lords’ convincingly. They managed to claim the win for the first time in 20 years with their star bowler Yasir Shah becoming the first leg-spinner to reach the top of the Test bowler rankings for the first time since Shane Warne in 2005.
The Men in Green got off-track in the following Test at Old Trafford. In the third Test, they squandered a 100-run lead from the first innings but Pakistan raised the bar again in the final Test at The Oval.
The current squad is boosted with the inclusion of Babar Azam and Muhammad Nawaz in the Test squad who have displayed marvellous skills throughout the tour. Nawaz managed to claim three victims from the final ODI in Abu Dhabi and cemented his spot in the starting XI.
The ODI captain Azhar Ali also found his form just before the longer format series started. He smashed a century along with Babar to strengthen his side in their innings. The 31-year-old reflected after claiming the ODI series by 3-0, “It was a much-needed hundred for me, but the most important thing is we wanted to win 3-0. Credit to the boys for coming up with exceptional performances. Everyone fought like tigers, so it feels great. You can see in their eyes the hunger to perform. We are all training hard. The more we win, the more we’ll blossom.”
West Indies on the other hand recently suffered a brutal 2-0 series loss at the hands of currently number one ranked Test side India. They managed to draw a match in the four-match Test series.
The visitors are deprived of their experienced cricketers with Chris Gayle being ruled out due to an injury and Andre Russell missing the tour with personal problems. Furthermore, the morale of the team is very low due to win-less streak from the T20 and ODI series in the United Arab Emirates.
The sacking of head coach Phil Simmons just before the tour caused a lot of negative impact on the whole team. None of the players have clicked in the tour and they need to step up in order to avoid another whitewash.
Wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin was the only one performing in the 3rd ODI as the Caribbean side failed to deliver from both batting and bowling end. After facing a mammoth total of more than 300 runs by Pakistan, West Indies were totalled at 172. Ramdin managed 37 runs before getting run out in the match. None of the batsmen or the bowlers clicked.
Holder admitted that his side needs to improve in all departments after losing the 3rd ODI. He stated in an interview, “We just really need to work on all aspects of the game. It’s difficult [to put behind administrative issues and concentrate on the game] but we are professionals, so we have to try and adjust. We need fresh faces to re-energise the dressing room. We have to start with some pride in the Tests. It won’t be easy, Pakistan has been playing some good cricket.”
Players to watch:
Babar Azam: After displaying outstanding performances in T20 and ODI, he will most probably debut for the Greens in this series. Younis Khan has still not fully recovered from dengue, this will grant Babar to debut in Dubai. He recently hammered three consecutive tons in ODI and became only the eighth player in the history of cricket to do so.
Jason Holder: The skipper will be eyeing to claw his team out from the Arabian misery. He will be looking forward to displaying his best and raise the confidence of his team.