It has been more than two weeks since West Indies landed in the UAE, and are yet to win a game against Pakistan. West Indies, World T20 champions six months back, are now on the brink of their second successive whitewash of the tour.
West Indies' batsmen have looked out of place, despite showing some resistance in the second ODI. Fifties by Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels sparked a comeback but the West Indies bowlers lacked penetration and had conceded far too many earlier in the day. Phil Simmons' sacking just before their UAE tour didn't bode well for the team either but with a gruelling Test series on the horizon, West Indies need to pick themselves quickly.
Since their 4-1 rout against England last month, Pakistan have raised the bar, winning six consecutive matches: all of them one-sided. Their progress has been built on consistent performances from the top order, apart from captain Azhar Ali. The biggest upshot for Pakistan is their improvement in the ODI rankings as they strive to gain automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
Pakistan WWWLL (completed matches, most recent first) West Indies LLLWL
In the spotlight
Azhar Ali's role as Pakistan's ODI captain has repeatedly been questioned of late. His batting, though, may be more of a worry. His dismissal in the second ODI was greeted by cheers from the Sharjah crowd. After back-to-back failures in the first two ODIs, Azhar will be desperate for a score of substance.
Johnson Charles came to the UAE on the back of some impressive T20 form and the experience of 42 ODIs. Scores of 7, 10, 5, 20 and 2 on this tour have only added pressure on West Indies' middle order.
Pakistan scored 337 in the second Sharjah ODI, but the scoring rate dipped between overs 31 and 40, which indicated a lack of firepower. Umar Akmal, who last played an ODI for Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup in Adelaide, may be given a chance.
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir has returned home due to his mother's illness. Rahat Ali could step in.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Azhar Ali (capt), 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 6 Umar Akmal/Mohammad Rizwan, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Rahat Ali, 11 Hasan Ali
Despite the batsmen showing some fight in the second ODI, West Indies may consider rejigging their top order. Evin Lewis, who struck 100 off 49 balls against India last month, is the reserve opener in the squad. Alzarri Joseph, who replaced Shannon Gabriel in the second ODI, is likely to retain his place.
West Indies (possible): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite/Evin Lewis, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Jason Holder (capt.), 8 Carlos Brathwaite, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Alzarri Joseph
Pitch and conditions
The October heat and dew will be significant factors in Abu Dhabi. The stadium is located in the middle of the desert, so gusts of wind may offer additional movement to the seamers.
West Indies have not won an ODI in Abu Dhabi. They lost all three to Pakistan in 2008.
Two Pakistan batsmen have scored hundreds in three successive ODI innings - Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar. Babar Azam scored hundreds in the first two ODIs of the series.
"Everyone knows that we have to be in the top eight come this time next year so we will be doing our utmost to win. We don't want to think that we have won the series so [we can] back off. We have to make sure to tick off our goals; only then we will be comfortable that we can get into the top - not eight, but in the top four." Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur wants more than No. 8 on the rankings
"There are players who are playing in the Test series who are playing in the ODI series, so it's important that they get used to the pitch and get used to the conditions, get used to the Pakistani bowlers as well, so there's still a lot to achieve from this game." Roddy Estwick, West Indies' bowling coach, on why the dead rubber is important for his team