Captains want more from batsmen

Marlon Samuels again struggled before chopping into his stumps AFP

Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, while elated with the series win over West Indies, has stressed the need for his batsmen to step up. Pakistan took an unassailable 3-0 lead over West Indies in Barbados by chasing down 172, but they had to survive a top-order wobble as the first three wickets fell for 12. Misbah-ul-Haq, the Man of the Match, stabilised the innings and with support from Umar Akmal, Hammad Azam and Wahab Riaz sealed a three-wicket win with 29 balls to spare.

"There are still some problems, and I'm sure the management and coaches will come at us hard in the meetings," Afridi said with a chuckle. "The way the boys delivered in the series was good.

"The batsmen need to spend some time [in the middle]. We all know we made mistakes." Pakistan's batting, however, had come good in the first two ODIs where they chased down targets of 221 and 222 with considerable ease.

For West Indies, who are rebuilding after three of their senior-most players were left out, the problems with the bat were far more serious. In each of the first two games their batsmen were unable to build on starts, while in the third the middle and lower orders fell apart with the last six wickets falling for 21. The hosts fought hard with the ball, seamer Ravi Rampaul and legspinner Devendra Bishoo sharing seven wickets, but the runs on the board were inadequate.

"We as a batting unit, myself included, have to take more responsibility like Bishoo does with the ball," their captain Darren Sammy said. "It's about getting the formula right; we have had good starts but we haven't capitalised on it.

"The way forward is to gain experience. This group is not short on talent, we need to play and get more consistency. The selectors will meet now, maybe the team will stay the same [for the remaining matches in the series] but whatever happens we need to do well in the middle phase."

Misbah displayed lots of patience while steering his team out of trouble with an unbeaten 62 off 109 balls. At 148 for 7, the game was still wide open but Riaz, who had picked up three wickets, supported him well, finishing the game with two sixes.

"The pitch wasn't easy for us as there was bit more bounce and pace. I thought I have to bat till the end and we can win," Misbah said. "The ball gets soft as it gets old and you can handle it easily.

"I was telling Wahab to play his normal game. When just 10 runs were required, I told him, you can now go for one or two big hits."

Pakistan are currently ranked No. 6 in the ICC ODI team rankings, and will remain there even if they complete a whitewash. The system offers little rewards for wins against lower-ranked teams, and Afridi was critical of the concept. "I can't understand this system. There should be some advantage for the visiting sides as winning a series is never easy for them no matter who they're playing against," Afridi told Express Tribune before the third ODI got underway. "It's really difficult to prosper under the current ranking system. I have little clue what it is based on."