After a dismal show at the ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan will be looking for redemption when they take on the West Indies in the first One-Day International in Guyana today.
Three successive losses meant Pakistan were the only team to return home without a point in the mega event, with the batting flopping miserably in all the matches. The horrendous show also forced the selectors to bring back all-rounder Shahid Afridi, dropped for the Champions Trophy over poor form. Batsmen Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad were also included in the squad that will contest limited-overs series against the West Indies.
Misbahul Haq, incharge of the ODI side that will contest five matches against the hosts, had said his players were looking to regain confidence after the Champions Trophy debacle.
“We will do our best to play hard and positive cricket and ensure that the poor show in the Champions Trophy is behind us,” Misbah had said.
“The squad is focused on putting up a good show which will help in ending the disappointment of our fans.”
‘A battle between Ajmal and Narine’
With Pakistan now eyeing a better show, it will be upto their match-winners to turn the tide in their favour. One of the main trump cards for Pakistan is their number one spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Ajmal, who took five for 37 in the practice match against Guyana ahead of the ODIs, will be looking to contain the West Indies’ firepower when the two sides take the field today.
Former cricketer Tauseef Ahmed termed Ajmal as the key for Pakistan.
“It’ll be a contest between Ajmal and [West Indies spinner] Sunil Narine as both are match winners for their teams,” Tauseef told The Express Tribune. “Whoever does better will give their side the edge. Narine seems better because he has been among the wickets. But you can never disregard Ajmal because he has won several matches for Pakistan.”
Whether Afridi’s return helps Pakistan’s cause remains to be seen. However, Tauseef felt it would give the team a much-needed boost.
“West Indies will be a tough opposition in their own backyard as they have Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and their grounds are small as well. I feel Afridi will rise to the challenge and give Pakistan that boost the team needs.”
Meanwhile, Dwayne Bravo said it was still early for him to think about how the leadership responsibility would affect him after he took over from Darren Sammy as the West Indies ODI captain, according to ESPNcricinfo. The five-match series will only be Bravo’s third after he was handed the captain’s arm-band ahead of the Champions Trophy, but he admitted he needed to do better with bat and ball.
“Since I took over the captaincy, I have only played a few matches and I did not get much opportunity,” Bravo said, according to the Guyana Chronicle. “I even missed a couple of games through injury and the one match when I was banned. But personally, I am not going to actually analyse my own performance as yet, whether the captaincy is going to affect me or not.”
West Indies had a decent Champions Trophy with a win and a loss followed by a tied result. They started off well in the recently-concluded Tri-nation Series but failed to reach the final after going down to India and Sri Lanka in the second round.
Bravo asked people to show more faith in his players, saying they had performed well in the past.
“I am comfortable with the squad and I am comfortable with each and every player. They have done great for West Indies in the past and people must not forget that.
The two sides play the first two ODIs in Guyana followed by three in St Lucia before the tour concludes with two Twenty20s in St Vincent.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.
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