Under pressure Pakistan aim to avoid whitewash and finish series on a high

Pakistan players celebrate a wicket. © Cricket West Indies

The last time Pakistan won a T20I – in which both the teams played 20 overs – was against West Indies in the T20 World Cup 2020. Incidentally, it was the last time Pakistan won a match while batting second. Since then, they have played eight and won only one – the rain-affected final T20I against South Africa earlier in January 2021. Their skipper Javeria Khan was the player of the match in both the games they won. 

Though the T20I series is lost, the Pakistan contingent would be hoping that Khan will come good in the final fixture. She has struggled to put bat to ball and spend some time in the middle. Her scores in this series read 7 and 0. 

Going into the third T20I, Khan and Aliya Riaz’s performance in the middle order will be crucial for Pakistan to avoid a whitewash. Riaz was one of the talking points for Pakistan during the South African tour along with Nida Dar. 

The duo showed glimpses of what they can do in the second match but have not been able to convert the starts into match-winning performances. The star in the first T20I, Ayesha Naseem, was promoted ahead of Riaz in the previous game. However, the 16-year-old was not able to replicate her performance.

Pakistan rely heavily on the Khan, Riaz and Dar trio to come good in the final T20I and let other batters play around them. Sidra Nawaz was roped in from the A-team for the second match in place of Muneeba Ali. With the latter doing well for Pakistan A in the second T20, it will be interesting to see if she comes back into the team.

In the bowling department, the tourists have stuck to their strengths – spin. Their bowlers have done exceptionally well so far, with Fatima Sana and Dar leading the wickets tally. Meanwhile, their head coach would want Diana Baig to get some wickets under her belt going into the ODIs.

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For West Indies, the biggest concern would be the well-being of Chinelle Henry and Chedean Nation – the two players who fell unconscious during the second T20I and are admitted to the hospital. The latest update was that they are ‘conscious and stable’. The reason of fitness and whether they will be fit to play the final T20I is yet to be confirmed. 

Although they have managed to win the two T20Is so far, West Indies’ senior players, especially Hayley Matthews and Stafanie Taylor, will be looking to get back to form. The last time they both scored more than 50 runs was against Ireland in May 2019. With the series already won, they would want to give themselves some time out in the middle.

As far as bowling is concerned, the fast bowlers have performed consistently so far, cleaning up the Pakistan top-order cheaply. Both Aaliyah Alleyne and Shamila Connel are among wickets and continue to impress. Ramharack, who made a comeback into the team during the England tour, will be crucial in the spin department to complement Anisa Mohammed if she gets a game. 

With five ODIs to play after the T20Is, both teams will be hoping to finish the series on a high on Sunday (July 4).

Squads

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Anisa Mohammed (vc), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Chinelle Henry, 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