West Indies aim for rankings boost
Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, has his eyes set on improving West Indies' standing in the ICC rankings, something they will achieve if they win or draw the second Test in Basseterre. West Indies lead the two-match series 1-0, after Sammy led by example to seal a 40-run win in Providence, and a series win will help them swap places with Pakistan in the Test rankings. West Indies are currently ranked seventh and Pakistan sixth.
"We as a team, when we met in Barbados before the Sri Lanka tour (in January), we had our plan for the next three years, where we want to be, and so far we're working very hard in achieving that target," Sammy said on the eve of the second Test. "Moving up the rankings is definitely one of our team goals so we all know what's at stake.
"We have that at the back of our minds, which will be motivation for the guys. Winning a series at home against a higher-ranked team would be a massive boost. The belief in the team is improving and everybody believes that they can go out there and win against Pakistan."
Sammy picked up seven wickets in Providence, including a five-for in the second innings, among three stand-out performances from the West Indies players. Ravi Rampaul delivered the early breakthroughs, taking seven wickets as well, while Devendra Bishoo, the legspinner, in his debut Test, grabbed 4 for 68 in the first innings. Sammy said his role was to support the strike bowlers.
"This type of bowling has always been my style. We all have roles in the team and I've clearly understood what my role is in the team, which is to build pressure and be the workhorse of the team," he said. "I've accepted that and that's how I've played throughout my career."
West Indies are unlikely to make too many changes but Devon Smith's form at the top of the order remains a worry - he was dismissed early by offspinner Mohammad Hafeez in each innings in Providence. In the event of Smith being left out, the 18-year old Barbados batsman Kraigg Brathwaite could get the nod for a Test debut. "He has over forty-something hundreds in his short career (at all levels) and it shows me the mental toughness he comes with," Sammy said. "That's what we are asking for, guys to be mentally strong and be able to go out there and bat for long periods and he has those attributes in him."
The Providence Test ended in four days with the pitch providing much assistance to the bowlers in a low-scoring game where only one batsman reached a half-century. The track at St. Kitts, however, was expected to be significantly different. "It looks like a typical St. Kitts wicket. If you apply yourself, it'll be encouraging for strokeplay," Sammy said. And his counterpart, Misbah-ul-Haq, appointed Pakistan's ODI captain for the Ireland series, replacing Shahid Afridi, agreed. "I think it's far better than the previous one for batting," he said. "It looks like it will be really hard work for the bowlers."
He did admit he was surprised at his appointment as ODI captain, but didn't dwell too much on it. "It was a surprise, but at the moment, we're just focusing here on this Test match."