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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
July 20, 2013
Match factsSunday, July 21, 2013
Big PictureAttribute it to the impact of Twenty20 if you may, but with the recent trend in one-dayers, even a cushion of 15 runs to defend off the final over may not be enough for fielding sides to feel safe. Ask Pakistan. In the last two months, they have choked while defending the exact number, first against Ireland and yesterday against West Indies. Both ended in ties. More recently, Sri Lanka too cracked under pressure against last-minute specialist MS Dhoni, the only difference being they conceded the match and the tri-series trophy to India. Such is the standard of death bowling these days that it is possible for Nos 9 and 11 to finish off improbable chases.
Friday's game was Pakistan's to lose with West Indies needing 39 off the last three with two wickets remaining. A combination of poor field placings and equally poor bowling cost them. Even with 15 to defend off six, Pakistan were better off saving boundaries than cutting off singles. Wahab Riaz bowled length instead of firing in yorkers, that Junaid Khan did so effectively. One of the commentators suggested that Mohammad Hafeez would have been a better choice.
Despite the choke, Pakistan had positives to draw from the game, most notably their fielding. Excluding a couple of blunders that cost boundaries - a misfield from Shahid Afridi at the start of the chase and Riaz moving the wrong way at long-on during the climax - the commitment was pleasing. Ahmed Shehzad and Hafeez took a couple of sharp catches and the number of sliding stops inches from the rope only made West Indies' task harder. In the batting, Umar Akmal and Riaz played positively in the slog overs to take 52 off the last 4.2 overs. Misbah-ul-Haq laid the platform with 75, but it was another laborious knock that consumed too many balls.
One thing the two sides have in common is an undependable top order. A spectator held a placard asking for Chris Gayle to be demoted down the order, given his lackluster form. Gayle has been struggling against two new balls and a quality seam attack, so it may not be a bad idea for him to swap places with an in-form Lendl Simmons. West Indies have also put more pressure on themselves by not rotating the strike enough. Pakistan don't really have a weak fifth bowler, so the batsmen can't expect too many boundary balls. As the captain Dwayne Bravo said after the match, the tie was not a satisfactory result for the hosts because the batsmen had no business leaving the dirty work to the tailenders.
Form guide(most recent first, last five completed matches)
In the spotlightA glance at the scorecard shows that Marlon Samuels' 46 was the second-highest score of the match. A closer look reveals an unpalatable strike rate of 43.39, that of a painful 106-ball stint that really slowed West Indies down. He hasn't been himself in these three matches, facing 246 balls for 92 runs. Something's been bothering him. It could be the nature of the pitches or a quality bowling attack, or both. West Indies might still place their faith in him to rediscover his touch, but will the short turnaround time between matches be enough?
Pakistan experimented with a one-dimensional left-arm seam attack and among the three, Mohammad Irfan was the most probing, with his steep bounce and angle that made the likes of Gayle and Samuels think twice about going for their shots. He has the pace as well to go with those attributes, making him a handful in the bowler-friendly conditions.
The teams could go in with unchanged line-ups.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Jason Holder
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Haris Sohail, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Junaid Khan, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Irfan
Stats and trivia
"At this level, the number of dot balls in our innings was unacceptable. We need to come up with a plan to cut down on that, go back to the drawing board."
Dwayne Bravo, on what West Indies need to work on
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough