A strongly-built Pakistan side will head into this three-match test series knowing that they have a huge opportunity to produce a rare whitewash away from home, the West Indies on the other hand will be looking to avoid that scenario at all costs.
This series could get quite ugly if the West Indies don’t maintain a fighting spirit and positive attitude throughout the entirety of the three games, Pakistan have been known to bat for long duration’s which can take it’s toll on a side that haven’t experienced a lot of success over the past three years in test cricket. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo will play a huge part in the series, Pakistan look comfortable against the West Indian pace attack which means that Bishoo will have to most of the damage with the ball, especially on day four & five when the pitch is breaking up. Opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite will most likely have to roll his arm over with some off-spin, pace on these Caribbean pitches are not a reliable source for wickets. Having dropped veteran middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels, the West Indies have made a huge statement and have backed their youth which isn’t a bad idea, but you can’t buy experience either. I’m going to be blunt with you, this team looks very weak in certain areas, especially the batting without Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels who have been the backbone of this side for quite some time, especially Bravo who was one of the only positives to come out of the Australian tour a couple years ago. Early breakthroughs are vital with the new ball, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder have to strike early if the West Indies are to restrict Pakistan to a chaseable total, you can’t rely on the spinners to break the game open with nine or ten wickets in hand.
On the other side of the fence, Pakistan are the outright favorites to take out this series as well as Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan calling it quits on their careers, they’ll be looking for a winning send-off after almost two decades of dominance in the game. Pakistan have strength throughout their line-up, the batting will be extremely hard to dislodge with Sarfraz Ahmed down at No. 7, giving the West Indies a clear idea of how well they will have to bowl to get close to trumping the visitors total. If Pakistan make anything over 400, they’ll have Jason Holder’s men well-and-truly on the back foot (looking at the top seven batsmen, that’s a huge possibility). Only the determined & gritty batsmen will have any success on this deck, word is the pitch will play very slowly and hold up which should bring both Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan into the game early. Having picked up ten wickets in the four T20’s against the West Indies in that recent series, he’s been rewarded for his efforts and should continue to cause havoc when he’s given his opportunity. Babar Azam is one to keep your eye on in the series, his consistency is second to none along with his talent as a No. 3 batsman, unfortunately his test record doesn’t reflect that as of yet. The only downside to this match is that rain is forecast throughout the five days, crickets biggest villain.
West Indies top 5 key players | 1st test | Kingston
- Devendra Bishoo
- Kraigg Brathwaite
- Shannon Gabriel
- Jermaine Blackwood
- Jason Holder
Pakistan’s top 5 key players | 1st test | Kingston
- Babar Azam
- Yasir Shah
- Younis Khan
- Asad Shafiq
- Shadab Khan
Team News | West Indies
The West Indies could hand Vishaul Singh and Shimron Hetmyer test debuts after some strong performances in a tour game last week prompted their selection. That means Shai Hope might not squeeze into the starting eleven, which means Shane Dowrich would be the default wicketkeeper for the first test.
West Indies (possible) – 1. Kraigg Brathwaite 2. Kieran Powell 3. Shimron Hetmyer/Shai Hope 4. Vishaul Singh 5. Jermaine Blackwood 6. Roston Chase 7. Shane Dowrich (wk) 8. Jason Holder (c) 9. Devendra Bishoo 10. Alzarri Joseph 11. Shannon Gabriel.
Team News | Pakistan
With Hasan Ali being ruled out of the first test with a groin injury, that opens the door for one of Mohammad Abbas or Mohammad Asghar. After his stunning T20 performance with the ball, leg-spinner Shadab Khan is expected to take Hasan Ali’s spot for the time being and team up with Yasir Shah in the spin department, meaning both Abbas and Asghar are likely to miss out.
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Azhar Ali 2. Ahmed Shehzad 3. Babar Azam 4. Younis Khan 5. Misbah-ul-Haq (c) 6. Asad Shafiq 7. Sarfraz Ahmed (wk) 8. Shadab Khan 9. Mohammad Amir 10. Wahab Riaz 11. Yasir Shah.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.