An unassailable 2-1 lead against the West Indies and an unbeaten record at Saint Lucia have upped the ante for Pakistan as they take on the Caribbean side in their fifth and decisive One-Day International (ODI) at Gros Islet today.
Pakistan achieved the lead in style when they successfully chased the revised target of 189 in 30 overs of the previous ODI. The rain-affected game sent out a positive message from the visitors regarding their batting – although the Duckworth/Lewis method did play a significant role in the match.
The lead has given a deserving respite to the team’s head coach Dav Whatmore after the team’s dispiriting show in the Champions Trophy.
“We’ll have to win to secure the series,” said Whatmore. “We are aware that we can’t lose the series; this itself is a big motivation for us. The team’s morale is high and we are looking to win.”
Meanwhile, an official close to the team management said that changes in the squad cannot be ruled out.
“There might be one or a couple of changes, depending on the conditions,” he said. “Then again, the team management may decide to keep the team unchanged.”
West Indies’ likely resurgence a threat
Pakistan may be ahead in the series but the West Indies have proved themselves to be equally unpredictable.
The home team has improved after each game and poses a threat as the visitors seek their second consecutive ODI series win in the Caribbean – the last came during their 2011 tour when Shahid Afridi-led team won the five-match series 3-2.
Marlon Samuels scored an unbeaten 106 in the last game and in all probability must be aiming for a match-winning knock. He is the highest scorer in the series so far with 198 runs, just one run ahead of Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq. Both in-form batsmen are the frontrunners for the man-of-the-series title.
Pakistan can also expect fireworks from Chris Gayle who after being demoted in the batting order showed improvement, making 30 in the last game after his first three innings returned only ten runs.
‘Misbah the key for tourists’
Meanwhile, former captain Zaheer Abbas hoped Pakistan would seal the series by winning the final contest.
“The team played with a good plan in the fourth match,” said Abbas. “If they continue with the same run they have good chances of sealing the series. Pakistan must retain the winning combination.”
The legendary batsman praised Misbah who has been enjoying a purple patch with the bat.
“Misbah has been phenomenal and I hope he plays a leading role in the team’s series winning triumph.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.
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