Tour review

West Indies v Pakistan, 2013

Tony Cozier

The victorious Pakistan team celebrate their series win, West Indies v Pakistan, 5th ODI, St Lucia, July 24, 2013
The victorious Pakistan team celebrate their series win in the ODI series © WICB Media
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Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of West Indies

One-day internationals (5): West Indies 1, Pakistan 3 Twenty20 internationals (2): West Indies 0, Pakistan 2

Pakistan were not amused when their proposed series of two Tests, five one day internationals and two Twenty20s - long ago inked in on the ICC's Future Tours Programme - was pared down so West Indies could squeeze in both a 50-over triangular tournament with India and Sri Lanka, and the inaugural Caribbean Premier League. Since Pakistan were unable to reschedule the tour for August, the two Tests disappeared, providing more evidence of the lip service paid to Test cricket by national boards, and the FTP's growing insignificance. The Pakistanis could do no more than shrug their shoulders.

As it turned out, their 3-1 triumph in the one-day series, and wins in both Twenty20 internationals against the world champions, dispelled much of the discontent that had followed their joyless performances in South Africa and at the Champions Trophy. For West Indies, the inconsistency that had dogged them throughout the year meant they slid to No. 8 in the 50-over rankings, where they had languished during the darkest days of their decline. The fortunes of the two captains were a microcosm of the cricket. Back home at least, much of the blame for Pakistan's downturn had been heaped on Misbah-ul-Haq, whose tactical and technical methods were said to be ill-suited to the modern limited-overs game. But he rubbished the theory with four decisive half-centuries and the series award. He was again deemed too slow for the Twenty20 side, but the St Lucia Zouks franchise snapped him up for the CPL, which began two days after the tour finished.

The aim of installing Dwayne Bravo as West Indies one-day captain for the Champions Trophy and beyond was to "freshen the leadership", according to chief selector Clyde Butts. The intention had yet to be realised. Bravo's decision to bowl the closing overs himself proved costly - he conceded 18, 22 and 19 off his last two in West Indies' three defeats. His unbeaten 43 and two late wickets did help their solitary win, but he acknowledged difficulties in coming to terms with the role.

Five months' non-stop cricket appeared to have irritated West Indies. There were open grouses from Bravo about the Duckworth/Lewis adjustment in the rain-affected fourth one-day international, and from Bravo and head coach Ottis Gibson about umpiring decisions in the fifth. Two out-of-form power-hitters, previously seen as essential in 50-over cricket, were dropped: Chris Gayle to No. 5 in the order, and Kieron Pollard to the substitutes' bench after successive scores of 0, 4, 0, 0, 3, 30 and 0. Marlon Samuels was West Indies' leading run-scorer with 243, including the only hundred on either side, though at the tardy overall strike-rate of 55. Gayle, feared assassin of bowling the world over, could muster a strike-rate of just 58, and a top score of 30.

West Indies needed to win the last one-day international to square the series, and slack boundary fielding by Sunil Narine and Samuels prompted a livid reaction from spectators and some team-mates; Narine's response was a dismissive hand gesture. Even before play, former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop commented on television that he detected a lack of cohesion within the team.

Pakistan, themselves so often undermined by internal politics, appeared far more settled under a calm, unruffled captain. But it was Shahid Afridi, a habitual loose cannon, who lit the fuse. In his first match since being left out of the Champions Trophy squad, he smashed 76, then took seven for 12, the second-best figures in one-day international history. Umar Akmal, often just as erratic, was a key batsman in the closing overs.

In the UK, the Mail on Sunday reported that the series was being investigated by the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit for "suspicious betting patterns" related to "unusually slow run-rates during certain overs, followed by bursts of high scoring". The report paid specific reference to the third oneday international, which finished in a tie, and the fifth, which Pakistan won off the penultimate ball. The Pakistan Cricket Board maintained they had "zero tolerance" of corruption, and expected the ICC to make a statement on the matter; none was immediately forthcoming.

Match reports for

Tour Match: Guyana v Pakistanis at Georgetown, Jul 11, 2013

1st ODI: West Indies v Pakistan at Providence, Jul 14, 2013

2nd ODI: West Indies v Pakistan at Providence, Jul 16, 2013

3rd ODI: West Indies v Pakistan at Gros Islet, Jul 19, 2013

4th ODI: West Indies v Pakistan at Gros Islet, Jul 21, 2013

5th ODI: West Indies v Pakistan at Gros Islet, Jul 24, 2013

1st T20I: West Indies v Pakistan at Kingstown, Jul 27, 2013

2nd T20I: West Indies v Pakistan at Kingstown, Jul 28, 2013

© John Wisden & Co.