Desperate Pakistan looking for first win of the tour even as West Indies continue to impress

West Indies players celebrate the fall of Javeria Khan's wicket. © Cricket West Indies

“We are always planning for better results. We are going to try and learn from our previous mistakes and give better results this time. We all have skills but we need to learn how to absorb the pressure better,” This was Pakistan skipper Javeria Khan’s statement before the T20I leg of Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies started.

Since the forced break of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan have helped the cause of rejuvenating the likes of South Africa and the West Indies. Now it’s high time for them to reflect and renew their game plan and ‘absorb the pressure better’ ahead of the second ODI in the five-match series at The Coolidge Cricket Ground on Friday (June 9).

In the first match, Muneeba Ali and Ayesha Zafar provided Pakistan with a much-needed opening partnership of 70 runs. Ali’s untimely dismissal exposed the out of form middle and lower order and they flattered to deceive with the exception of Nida Dar, who scored a 67 ball half-century to get Pakistan to a respectable total of 205.

The biggest worry for Pakistan is the form of their captain Khan. Since the beginning of the tour, she has been having a horror run with only single digit scores to her name. Her scores across the three T20Is and the first ODI read seven, zero, six and five. Pakistan desperately need their captain to come good if they are hoping to resolve their top order troubles. Omaima Sohail’s inexperienced presence in the batting line-up may force Pakistan to make some changes in the middle order.

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The Pakistani bowling unit performed better during the first ODI than they did in the T20I leg. Sadia Iqbal impressed everyone with her two-wicket haul while the experienced Dar and Diana Baig tried to halt the flow but lack of runs on the board eventually didn’t help them. Some eyebrows were raised when Aliya Riaz, who batted at six, was not handed the ball by Khan at any stage.

West Indies, on the other hand, looked calm even when Pakistan’s opening partnership looked threatening. They came back in the game with superior bowling performance led by captain Stafanie Taylor and vice-captain Anisa Mohammed. The experienced duo took five wickets between them, accounting for three of the Pakistan’s top four. Among the pacers, Shamilia Connell was economical and kept things under control even against the openers and Dar.

Even though Pakistan’s total of 205 was their third-highest ODI score against the hosts, West Indies managed to chase it down thanks to Taylor continuing her form on their return to the format for the first time since November 2019. After a slow start, Taylor took charge of the chase and patiently scored her sixth ODI century even as none of the other West Indies batters could cross the 25-run mark. Their heavy reliance on Taylor in the series haven’t hurt West Indies yet and although they would their skipper to continue her form, it’s high time other batters have come to party for the home side as they continue their build up to the World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka in December.

West Indies and Pakistan faced similar issues as far as batting is concerned in recent times but the presence of Taylor will continue to make the hosts stay afloat while the visitors may need a collective effort from the batters to put challenging scores on the board that their promising bowling unit can defend. Even they bowl first and restrict the West Indies to a moderate total, Pakistan batters will be under pressure in the chase to help them to their first ODI win since the South Africa tour in 2019.

The second ODI of the series will provide both sides with opportunities to make some changes. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan will give the exciting Ayesha Naseem a go or will they stick to the same line up from the first match. West Indies are likely to stick to the same XI they fielded in the opening game even as they are vary of the vistors’ tenacity for a fight.

Will Pakistan learn from their past mistakes or will they let the West Indies continue their victory march? We will find it out soon.

Squads

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Anisa Mohammed (vc), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Caneisha Isaac, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman

Pakistan: Javeria Khan (c), Rameen Shamim, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Aliya Riaz, Aiman Anwar, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Jaweria Rauf, Kainat Imtiaz, Kaynat Hafeez, Maham Tariq, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui (wk), Nahida Khan, Najiha Alvi (wk), Nashra Sandhu, Natalia Parvaiz, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Saba Nazir, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, and Syeda Aroob Shah