About the Match
The first test between the West Indies and Pakistan is about to start amidst what has become an international break for cricket because of the IPL, albeit unofficially. Pakistan won the T20 and ODI series quite convincingly and would like to round out the tour by winning the tests as well.
The problems that the West Indies has had with personnel and putting their best 11 on the field is well characterized by the fact that most of their biggest names like Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Dawayne Bravo, Carlos Braithwaite and more will be playing in the IPL rather than representing the West Indies.
At the moment, there is simply not much they can do about it.
What they have done though is to pick a team based on recent form and the performances of players in the warm-up matches. This has meant that Vishaul Singh and Shimron Hetmeyer get called up to the test squad while Kieron Powell also makes his way back almost three years after he last played a test.
Darren Bravo continues to be ignored for selection ever since his bust-up with the management, while Marlon Samuels has been dropped from the squad.
This means that the West Indies will once again be entering a test series with players that have little experience. The first class record for Hetmeyer is relatively okay but Vishaul Singh and Kieron Powell have done little except score at the right time against Pakistan to imply international quality.
The bowling for the West Indies has a more settled look as Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Devendra Bishoo are all expected to play with Roston Chase as the all-rounder. Miguel Cummins could also get a game depending upon the kind of surface on offer.
Weare really interested to see if Shai Hope finally lives up to the hype that has been generated around him and scores some big runs. The West Indies will be hoping that their inexperienced lineup scores enough runs to be able to allow their bowlers to attack the Pakistani batting.
Pakistan had a tough warm-up match in which most of their batsmen failed to score runs and their bowlers did not take too many wickets. This, of course, is no indication that the same will take place when Pakistan steps out on the field to play the first test.
Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have announced that they will be retiring after this series and so it will be an emotional series for the entire team. While Misbah struggled to get runs in Australia, Younis Khan scored a double century and would want to add some more big runs to his tally before saying goodbye.
Ahmed Shahzad, Asad Shafiq, and Azhar Ali will be the other front line batsmen that Pakistan will be looking towards for runs in this series. Asad Shafiq was one of the revelations in Australia while Azhar Ali continues to be impressive even if his tempo of scoring is a little slow for some people’s liking.
A weak or tiring West Indian attack could be fodder for these batsmen to feast on. Babar Azam is one player that has had a fantastic start to his ODI career but not been able to translate the same success in the longer format of the game.
We believe this could be the tour where he finally announces his presence at the test level as well. With wicketkeeper-batsman, Sarfaraz Khan in the side as well, this Pakistani batting lineup has a nice formidable look around it.
The Pakistani bowling is in excellent hands with the presence of Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Amir and Shadab Khan all a part of the squad. With Hasan Ali injured ahead of the first test, Pakistan may be forced to play two spinners in the first test.
Pitch and Conditions
Stuart Law stated that one of the ways in which he could see West Indies cricket rising once again was to provide their bowlers the fast bouncy pitches that were abundant in the seventies and eighties. Sabina Park may be the perfect place to start although all indications say that it will be a flat batting deck that deteriorates slowly over the course of five days.
Pakistan is a notoriously slow starter in tests and the new players added to the squad could take some time adapting, however, we believe that this inexperienced West Indies side will have to play out of their skin to even compete.
Back Pakistan To win.
Winner: Pakistan, 1.8 @ Bet on Pakistan now