About the Match
Pakistan continued their successful tour of the West Indies with a comprehensive win in the first test match. The inexperienced West Indies team was never really in the contest and they will have to do much better if they are to prevent Pakistan from wrapping up the series in this test match.
There were some eyebrows raised when the West Indies announced the presence of a number of debutants in a side that was already light on experience to begin with. The West Indian selectors decided to reward form and performances in the warm-up games but as it turned out, test matches are a whole different kettle of fish than warm-up games.
The current West Indian side is very light on batting talent and does not possess the kind of bowling stocks that used to frighten opposition batsmen. Even the pitches have flattened out considerably and provide more assistance to the spinners rather than the fast bowlers.
Of course, Bridgetown Barbados is probably the one surface that still has some amount of bounce and carry in the West Indies and could thus maybe provide some sort of home advantage to Jason Holder and his men.
The West Indian batting is expected to remain much the same with maybe Jermaine Blackwood slotting in for Hetmeyer or Vishaul Singh. Kieron Powell showed some semblance of form in the second inning with a patient 49 but every other batsman will have to put up a hugely improved effort for the West Indies to even have a chance.
Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, and Jason Holder showed that runs could be made through simple but effective batting techniques although none of them was able to carry on and turn their starts into big scores.
The bowling was largely ineffective save for Shannon Gabriel who troubled the Pakistani batsmen every time he came on to bowl. If he and Alzarri Joseph get a spicy pitch at the Kensington Oval, they may be able to make the Pakistani batsmen jump.
The Pakistan team is in the middle of bidding two of their best batsmen ever farewell. Younis Khan reached 10,000 runs while Misbah-ul-Haq was almost poetically left stranded on 99 not out in the first innings. Almost every batsman got a start but it will be of some concern that no one reached triple figures.
Ahmed Shahzad seems to be stuck in an endless cycle of not being good enough for test cricket and being too good for Pakistani domestic cricket, something that he will be keen to shows is not true. We think that the pressure will be on him to score runs to keep his place otherwise he could once again find himself on the Pakistani domestic circuit.
It will be interesting to see how the Pakistani batsmen cope if they lose the toss and are sent in to bat on a surface expected to provide something to the fast bowlers for the first couple of days.
Of course, if Mohammad Amir and company get the first go on it then they could bundle the West Indians for not too many either.
It was also very encouraging to see the manner in which Yasir Shah continues to pick wickets around the world. It was his spell on the fourth day that brought the match alive when the West Indian batsmen seemed to be settling in for a draw.
Pakistan would want to be careful though because they have lost matches in series that they looked set to dominate, particularly abroad. They have never won a test series in the West Indies and this represents by far the best chance they have of correcting that record.
There was some talk of Pakistan adding another bowler to avoid burdening their bowling attack but we think that Pakistan will stick with the winning combination.
It is tempting to think that the West Indies could come up with something special to upset the Pakistanis and keep this series alive, however, there is nothing to suggest that this West Indies team is capable of competing against this Pakistan side over the course of 5 days.
Back Pakistan to win.
Winner: Pakistan, 1.53 @ Bet on Pakistan now