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April 27, 2011
Match FactsApril 28, Bridgetown, Barbados
The Big Picture
April 28 is Heroes Day in Barbados. A national holiday to celebrate people the country is proud of. Like Grantley Adams and Garry Sobers. The West Indies cricket team is in desperate need of a hero - Bajan or otherwise - as they bid to keep the series alive at the Kensington Oval. Unfortunately the cricketers likeliest to produce heroic feats are injured, dropped or plying their trade in India. Darren Sammy's team trails 0-2, and unless they improve dramatically on two inept performances, Pakistan will secure the series with two games to spare.
West Indies have bowling problems. They took only five Pakistan wickets in 89.3 overs in the first two ODIs. Devendra Bishoo accounted for four, while the other was a run-out. Kemar Roach is a threat with the new ball but Pakistan's batsmen have simply played out his testing deliveries, while scoring off the gentle medium-pace at the other end. Jerome Taylor, who would have been an able new-ball partner for Roach, is playing in the IPL instead.
Pakistan have also had the luxury of being able to chase at their own pace, because West Indies' batsmen have been clueless against spin. It was this that decided the first two one-dayers extremely early in the contest. No one has been able to read the variations of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez. At one extreme, Darren Bravo played a shot too many in the second ODI, and at the other Marlon Samuels couldn't play one if he wanted to.
The formula for Pakistan, on a turning St Lucia pitch, was simple. Let West Indies bat first, use spinners to stifle the scoring and pick up wickets without needing to produce anything spectacular, after which their batsmen chase at leisure. The outcome has been rather unattractive to watch - two dreary, uncompetitive matches - but that is no fault of Pakistan's. They too arrived in the Caribbean with several young players, and they've managed to cope far better than the hosts have.
Form guide(most recent first)
West Indies LLLLL
Watch out for...
Marlon Samuels' international comeback, after serving a two-year ban, has not been successful. He made 2 off 19 balls in the first one-dayer and then stagnated spectacularly in the second, pottering around for 3 off 36 balls before finishing up with 29 off 74. His innings played a significant role in West Indies losing direction after a positive start. Given the turbulence in West Indies cricket at the moment, Samuels can hope for a few more opportunities to stake a claim to a permanent spot in the team.
Mohammad Hafeez is fast becoming an integral component in the Pakistan squad, his all-round skills maintaining the balance of the team. He does a Shane Watson, opening the innings, often scoring quickly, and then bowling ten reliable overs, sometimes taking the new ball. He took 1 for 36 and made 54 in the first ODI, and contributed 2 for 38 and 32 in the second.
Despite two drubbings, the West Indian selectors persevered with the same 13-man squad for the third ODI. Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Taylor are in India, while Fidel Edwards is not yet match fit. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Sulieman Benn remain unpicked. The fact that the squad was retained for only the third ODI is perhaps an indication that another failure will result in changes. Anthony Martin, the Antiguan legspinner, had a satisfactory debut - taking 0 for 36 off ten overs - so he could keep his place ahead of Andre Russell.
West Indies (possible): 1 Devon Smith, 2 Lendl Simmons, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Kirk Edwards, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Anthony Martin
Pakistan played the same XI in both games, and with the results they've had, there is no need to change it as they push for a series win.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Hammad Azam, 7 Mohammad Salman (wk), 8 Shahid Afridi (capt), 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Saeed Ajmal
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at the Beausejour Stadium had surprised Sammy, who did not think it would aid spin as much as it did. The Kensington Oval surface should be better for batting, but thundery showers are forecast for Thursday.
Stats and trivia
"I would like to thank my team management for the way they have supported me. Shahid is the man to follow. He is giving confidence to every single individual - I think it is amazing."
Ahmed Shehzad, who scored a century in the second ODI after a poor World Cup, is grateful for the faith the team has shown in him.
"We weren't rolled over. We kept ourselves in the matches right to the finish. There were moments when things could have gone either way, but we didn't make it happen."
Darren Sammy thinks West Indies were competitive despite Pakistan winning by eight and seven wickets.
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