The two of the most unpredictable teams in the cricketing world are going head to head in the Caribbean. The series was scheduled with 4 T20i’s, 3 ODI’s and 3 Tests respectively. The T20i series caught everyone’s attention as both of the teams have mastered the art of hard hitting having won the title of the champions. Pakistani selectors were forced to make some changes from their previous squad due to the serious blow which they faced as the highly skilled openers Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were accused in the spot fixing allegations in the recently concluded PSL.
However, the scandal came good for Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shahzad as their performance in the PSL got recognitions and both the openers got their tickets booked for the country of dance and music. The T20i series started with West Indies playing for their respect after the whitewash which they faced from the visitors in the UAE. The first T20i started with Pakistan having 18-year-old debutant Shadab Khan as a wrist spinner. Shadab had a scratch of luck with him since the start of the PSL and it continued in his international debut. The wrist spinner grabbed 3 wickets in what the computer specialist call a binary spell restricting the hosts on a significantly low total. Sarfaraz eleven won the first game convincingly with Shadab getting his hands on the Man of the Match award on debut (only the second Pakistani to do so after Shahid Afridi). The second T20i was no different from the first one with Shadab picking up 4 more scalps and getting another MOM award. The hosts came back in the third T20i when Pakistan batting first was eyeing a big first inning total with the cousins Kamran Akmal and Babar Azam were moving rather swiftly. West Indies came back in the back half of the inning restricting the hosts to a mere 140 odd total which was easily chased down thanks to the blistering knock from Evin Lewis. The hosts eyed a series draw in the fourth T20i, but Sarfaraz eleven came too good again winning the series 3-1.
Having proved his prowess in the T20i’s as a captain, the job got big on Sarfaraz as he was made the ODI captain as well following Azhar Ali’s stepping down as the captain after a dismal tour of Australia. The visitors had all the hopes of winning in the first ODI having posted a total of 308 in the first innings. The hosts would have also lost the hopes after being 5 down in the chase for 130 odd runs. Then came Jason Mohammed who looked in fine touch as the right-hander took the game away from the optimistic visitors. The hosts reached the target with time to spare after the brilliance of Jason and a quick fire 34 from Ashley Nurse. The visitors came back in the second ODI when Babar Azam posted his fifth ODI hundred and his fourth against the same opposition in a mere span of 5 matches. Third ODI grabbed the attention of the people being the decider as the West Indies had a great chance of winning their first ODI bilateral series against Pakistan since 1991. Not to be, as some great bowling in the last ODI from the visitors on a pitch which had something for the bowlers ensured that the hosts did not go too far in the first inning. While, in the second inning the hopes of Pakistan also faced a severe blow when they were going nowhere with 3 down on just 36 on the board. But the fans were hoping for a similar partnership from the two most senior pros Hafeez and Malik which won them the game against India in the first T20i in the series of 2013. As was the case in this game as the experienced veterans went on to put a stand of 130 runs with Malik going on to hit his ninth ODI ton and finishing the game in style with a six to Holder.
The ODI and the T20 series has been done and dusted and all eyes are on the test series now with the skipper of Pakistan Misbah-ul-Haq and veteran Younis Khan deciding to hang up their boots, calling this series as their last. Younis being the best batsman from Pakistan with the most number of centuries and the most number of runs needing just 23 to become the first batsman from Pakistan to reach the humongous milestone of completing 10,000 runs in the longest of the formats. Pakistan will have a huge task at their hands as their will be big shoes to fill after the series with two of the most experienced players retiring.
by Shehroz Khan