Pakistan eye West Indies clean sweep
MULTAN – Pakistan are currently fifth in the international ODI rankings and West Indies are lurking on the ninth position, but it cannot be considered the best way to analyse why the hosts beat them in the first two matches.
Pakistan have been weak in the ODIs in the past few years, however, the West Indies have been giving them competition in being worse than them. But if we look at the last two matches, as individual matches without any retrospect, they were quality encounters, with each side showing promise.
The first match was a perfect case study into how ODI cricket is now faster than usual. Scoring 300-plus total doesn’t necessarily mean that the match has turned into one’s favour. It only means that you have a good amount of runs to defend.
West Indies went ballistic in the first ODI to post 305 runs on the board. Pakistan would have wanted to restrict them to a lower total to push past the finish line with ease. However, an in-form Babar Azam and some quality hitting from Khushdil Shah at the end of the chase helped Pakistan take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
After the PSL flop with Karachi Kings, many were thinking that Babar has lost his Midas touch in all formats, but he showed why he is one of the greatest batters of this generation with captain’s knocks against first Australia and now the West Indies.
Meanwhile, Khushdil delivering with his big hits was a positive sign for Pakistan with the T20 World Cup in Australia around the corner. While the bowlers’ performances should also be discussed during the first ODI, it won’t be wrong to call it a battle of batters, rather than a bowlers’ show. Next came the second 50-over clash in the sweltering Multan heat and Pakistan showed why they are still considered one of the most old-fashioned ODI sides in the world.
Pakistan have a history of batting first, managing a nearly enough total and bulldozing oppositions with their bowling. And they repeated the script in the second ODI when they scored 275, courtesy once again captain-in-form Babar’ and opener Imam’s fifties. However, the day belonged to all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz, who bagged 4-19 in his 10 overs and was aptly supported by pacer Mohammad Wasim with his three for 34 in 4.2 overs. The Men in Green haven’t lost to the Windies in an ODI series since 1991.
Meanwhile, Pakistan are also happy to bag valuable points for the ICC ODI Super League, which is in place to help countries qualify for the for the 2023 World Cup in India. While the second match saw Nawaz taking the limelight, Babar made sure he broke the record for most consecutive fifties across all formats as he beat former Pakistan batting legend Javed Miandad’s record.
Babar’s 77 against West Indies was his ninth consecutive fifty-plus score across all formats. Miandad had eight consecutive fifties to his name, while batting legends Rahul Dravid, Misbahul Haq and Kumar Sangakkara had scored seven consecutive half centuries. This goes on to show that Babar’s sublime form and all Pakistani players pitching in for victories makes them the favourite to win the third ODI too and clean sweep the West Indies.