About the Match
The final test between the West Indies and Pakistan is about to get under way and the overriding conversation is not about the impending retirement of Misbah and Younis but about the memorable come from behind victory that the West Indies managed in the second test.
Can the West Indies spoil the great Pakistani batsmen’s farewell party or will Pakistan strike back to win their first ever test series in the Caribbean?
An inspiring performance by Shai Hope in the second innings of the second test match allowed the West Indies to get into a position from where they could put pressure on Pakistan and use the crumbling pitch to their advantage.
It was an exciting end, however, no credit should be taken away from the role that Chase played in the first inning. He, along with Dowrich and Holder, ensured that the West Indies recovered from 107 for 5 to post a respectable first inning total.
Then, of course, there was Shannon Gabriel. He has been the heart and soul of this West Indian bowling lineup and seems to improve with every game that he plays. His genuine pace, consistent lines, and ability extract something out of dead surfaces makes him a genuine asset to have.
There are many weakness as well in this team as is apparent to everyone. Their batting is very brittle and a lack of experience at this level of playing runs from top to bottom. Devendra Bishoo as the lead spinner has not set the world alight and is a pale shadow of the spinners present in the opposition.
Still, momentum and home advantage count for a lot in cricket and the West indies could channel all that to provide a more consistently tougher challenge to Pakistan.
A target of 187 is tricky, however, it really should have been chased down by Pakistan. Even on a tricky pitch, the visitors would be very disappointed with their performance. In fact, across the entire second test, a theme of missed opportunities from Pakistan comes up where they had West Indies on the mat but could not finish them off.
Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shahzad, and Misbah all got runs in the first innings of the second tests, while Babar Azam and Sarfaraz did well in the first one but Pakistan almost seems to be playing a forgotten brand of cricket.
Their rate of scoring is so slow that it almost leaves them short of time in having to force a win especially if the opposition takes their time to score as well. To be fair to Pakistan, this approach has worked well for them in the past especially in Dubai but we feel a more positive approach will benefit them greatly.
The addition of Shadab Khan to the team did not go as planned and we think that Pakistan could revert back to a 4 bowler attack seen in the first test.
Yasir Shah has been fantastic and has added 17 wickets to his tally in this series already. Support from the other bowlers has been good as well, in particular, Mohammad Amir with 11 wickets in the series but this is not a Pakistan attack that will blow teams away.
Another area where Pakistan has been desperately lacking is the fielding. Chances going down, easy runs being given away all add up in the end and can be the difference between winning and losing.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch at Windsor Park is expected to be low, slow and favorable to the spinners. It is a sad departure from the pitches of old where the West Indies used to dominate but that is a conversation for another day.
Rain is also expected to take huge chunks time out of the game and is currently forecast to intervene on 4 out of the five playing days.
Pakistan is the better team no doubt but the West Indies have rallied well to even the series. With another sluggish pitch on offer and rain in the air, we think this match will end in a draw.
Back the draw.