West Indies v Pakistan, 1st Test, Providence May 11, 2011

Pakistan's chance to create history

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Match Facts

May 12-16, Providence, Guyana
Start time 1000 (1400 GMT)

The Big Picture


We've been starved of Test cricket for nearly four months now. Ever since Pakistan drew in Wellington, to win the series against New Zealand, there's been a glut of limited-over matches - the World Cup, Australia in Bangladesh, the IPL and Pakistan in the West Indies. Re-adjusting attention spans to the pace of five-day cricket might take a while, for both players and us. It is in Guyana, at the other end of the cricket universe from where they last played, that Pakistan resume the Test calendar, in pursuit of a success they've never achieved before.

Pakistan have never won a Test series in the West Indies. They've beaten them at home and at neutral venues (UAE in 2001-02), but in six trips to the Caribbean, Pakistan have lost four series and drawn two. The most memorable of those battles was in 1987-88, when Imran Khan's team held its own against the champion side Viv Richards inherited from Clive Lloyd in three monumental Tests. One-all it finished. The last two were thrillers. Unfortunately, Pakistan and West Indies have regressed since that watershed tour, and it would be fanciful to expect Misbah-ul-Haq and Darren Sammy's teams to produce entertainment of comparable quality.

Whether Pakistan or West Indies are in greater disorder could make for protracted debate. About ten months ago, it would have been Pakistan. Their captain (Shahid Afridi) jumped ship and retired from Tests, while his successor (Salman Butt) and their two best fast bowlers (Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer) were embroiled in a spot-fixing scandal and then banned by the ICC. From the cold the selectors recalled Misbah and then made him captain. His chalice, however, hasn't been poisoned and Pakistan have been uncontroversial under his leadership. They also drew against South Africa and won in New Zealand. Pakistan, incredibly, appear well settled.

It is West Indies who appear to be in turmoil. Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard turned down board contracts, preferring to remain unshackled to pursue lucrative assignments. And ever since West Indies were eliminated from the World Cup, by Pakistan, there's been a slanging match between the WICB on one side, and the WIPA and several players on the other, over how cricket is run in the region and how cricketers are treated by administrators. The upshot of the series of events is that West Indies will play the Test series against Pakistan without Gayle and Bravo, two players who would have walked into the starting XIs. Also missing is fast bowler Jerome Taylor, who's playing in the IPL.

West Indies have won only three series since Sri Lanka visited in 2003. Two of those were against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Their only success against a top side was the 1-0 result against England in 2009, a victory that was due to a searing spell from the now-absent Taylor.

Form guide

(most recent first)
West Indies: DDDLD
Pakistan: DWDDL

Watch out for...


Two local lads, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Devendra Bishoo. Chanderpaul was dropped from the ODI series against Pakistan, exchanged lengthy letters with the WICB, and is now back for the Tests. He had made unflattering claims about how the team management kept telling him how to bat, even during his innings, and then subjected him to an interrogation afterwards. He's going to be playing in the same set up, so watch out for men with drinks running frequently to the middle while Chanderpaul is batting. His performances, however, will be critical in an inexperienced batting order.

While Chanderpaul has played 129 Tests, Bishoo is yet to play one, and will most certainly make his debut at Providence. He was a refreshing revelation during the World Cup and his legbreaks and googlies were the only thing that brought West Indies wickets (apart from a run-out) in the first two ODIs against Pakistan. He will be the solitary spinner in the XI, so is shouldering a large responsibility for someone so raw.

There have been questions over Darren Sammy's place in the limited-overs team - he's the third seam-bowling allrounder along with Bravo and Pollard - and whether he would win a spot by merit if he wasn't captain. Bravo is playing the IPL, so Sammy is the only allrounder in the Test squad, but he will be under pressure to show he belongs in a format that demands greater skills than the shorter versions do. At present, Sammy averages 16.72 with the bat and 31 with the ball, which isn't really good enough.

Azhar Ali is an extremely different batsman compared to Umar Akmal, who has been Pakistan's next big thing for a while now, but no less valuable in this series. While Akmal oozes aggression and indiscretion, Ali is patient. He's made six half-centuries in 19 innings and is searching for his maiden hundred. In the absence of Younis Khan, Ali's responsibility will be to provide stability in the middle order.

Team news


The absence of Gayle will give Lendl Simmons his first shot at Tests since May 2009 at the top of the order. The question, however, is whether West Indies will play six specialist batsman or four specialist bowlers. If they play six batsmen, with Carlton Baugh as wicketkeeper, then Sammy will have to be the fourth bowler, which leaves their attack light. If they play all three quicks - Roach, Rampaul and Edwards - and Bishoo, at the expense of a specialist batsman, then Baugh will have to bat at No. 6, which is a spot too high for him. A stronger bowling side will give them a better chance of winning the Test though.

West Indies (probable): 1 Devon Smith, 2 Lendl Simmons, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Brendan Nash, 6 Carlton Baugh (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Ravi Rampaul, 9 Fidel Edwards, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Devendra Bishoo.

Pakistan's line-up is more balanced than West Indies' but they have to make up for the absence of Younis, who flew home because of the death of his brother. It gives Akmal another shot at securing a Test spot, after his tendency to self-destruct cost him his middle-order berth.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Taufeeq Umar, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Mohammad Salman (wk), 8 Tanvir Ahmed, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Saeed Ajmal.

Pitch and conditions


The Providence Stadium in Guyana has hosted just one Test before this, between West Indies and Sri Lanka in 2008. It finished in a win for the visitors after they batted first. In conditions that have traditionally aided spin, West Indies have gone in with a pace-heavy squad for the first Test, hinting there might be something extra for the seamers. The weather's a bit of a worry, with scattered thunderstorms forecast.

Stats and trivia

  • Since 2007, West Indies have averaged 32 per wicket while batting at home, and taken wickets at 42 apiece while bowling. Pakistan have averaged 27 with the bat in away Tests and 35 with the ball.
  • Chanderpaul has scored 2327 runs - the most of West Indies since 2007 - at an average of 68. Misbah has been Pakistan's best, scoring 1339 at an average of 54.
  • Umar Gul is Pakistan's highest wicket-taker since 2007, with 64 at an average of 37. Edwards is West Indies' best, with 59 wickets at an average of 34.
Click here for more stats on the series.

Quotes


"I have confidence in Shivnarine Chanderpaul. He has been around cricket for a long time, he has been a professional, and I think he's gonna go back in there and he's gonna play the game how he's supposed to play it."
Clyde Butts, chairman of the West Indies selection panel, on a man who's been in the news of late.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on May 13, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    Inshaallah pakistan will create history!!!

  • Zed_Sports on May 13, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    @CricketpunditUSA - You mean the same history which India is creating for last four years in all IPL matches.

    @cric_fanatics - Dude play real cricket without hiding behind BCCI moneypowers and see results for your team and perfect slide to ground zero in no time.

  • CandidIndian on May 12, 2011, 14:14 GMT

    Well it will be an easy series win for Pakistan, Gayle would have saved a game or two for WI but he is also not available now.With all due respect of Pakistan cricket, i want to tell my Pakistani friends like a.syed81 that its not necessary that a team who does not have a express fast bowler cant be no 1 in tests.Without so called express fast bowler India were able to win series in England where Pakistan lost 3-1 on pitches helping the bowlers.India played better than other teams in last 3-4 years and hence they moved to no1 i can present the stats for anyone who wants.You can make fun of Munaf but alteast he did well for his team in semis unlike so called express bowler Umar gul who failed when his team needed him most.One needs temperament to move to no 1, .Give respect get respect.

  • delastbastion on May 12, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    It seems that selector Butts has managed to convince many that Pak will open their attack with pace bowling to allow devon smith an opportunity to score some runs..... I cant wait for the match to begin to see pakitans' opening bowling combination to WI.

  • dummy4fb on May 12, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    the only obstacle for pakistan to winning the series 2-0 is the weather. i just dont get how obsessive indian fans want to include their team in every discussion. i agree they are a far more better team then pakistan, but atleast dont humilate yourself by being desperate for attention.

  • a.syed81 on May 12, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    Win is a WIN in international cricket either against weak or strong opponent. I don't remember any comments came though of Indian when pak lose saying "Oh it was weak pak without seniors who lost". Then why now all of you having blue tears in your eyes?

    @cric_fanatics rank # 1 teams have to have express pace fast bowler. NAME ONE FAST BOWLER INDIA HAS EVER PRODUCE? Here I'm talking about Shoaid, Lee,Tait, Dale type bowlers not Munaf Patel TYPE.

    Furthermore I really want to see Indian performance once Tendulkar, Sehwag & Zaheer will retired.

    Always remember EVERY RAISE HAS A FALL. Look Aussies.

  • kiwipauper on May 12, 2011, 12:33 GMT

    nicely balanced sides ,one side managed to keep test status just by lara and another side ...always on the wrong side... and still say they are cornered ,pakistan are cornered tigers because they dont know how to mingle mith other countries

  • dummy4fb on May 12, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    Pakistan will inshaAllah win this test series............................PAKISTAN ZINDABAD

  • maddy20 on May 12, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    Yeah beat a weak WI side and act like they won the WC! How can the fans of this spineless team accuse India of not winning abroad?

  • DINESHCC on May 12, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    WHEN WI AND PAK ARE PLAYING, WHY THERE IS A FIGHT BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN? DEAR PAK GUYS, WHEN KAMRAN AKMAL IS NOT IN THE TEAM, NO TEAM CAN BEAT YOU. IF YOU INCLUDE KAMRAN, IT WILL BE A CAKEWALK FOR BANGLADESH TEAM.

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