Under pressure Pakistan aim to come back strong with series on line

Pakistan team © PCB Media

“We have Sidra Ameen, Iram Javed, Ayesha Zafar and Aliya Riaz. In the top six, we have players that are capable and performing. This (series) is a great opportunity for them,” said Pakistan head coach David Hemp when asked if the inexperienced top-order could be a worry against West Indies. The batting did come through to a certain extent in the first ODI, scoring 208 for nine in 50 overs, but they were chasing 254.

Though Ameen did not have a great game, Muneeba Ali and Zafar looked good during their short stay. However, in the absence of Javeria Khan and Nida Dar, the team management would want their top-order batters to convert their starts into a big score.

Javed and Riaz batted well, but, once again, the former could not capitalise, and the latter had too much to do in too little time. Skipper Khan and Omaima Sohail’s fitness status is yet to be known. If they return, it would be a huge boost for Pakistan going into the second ODI.

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The bigger worry, though, is the absence of Diana Baig. Without the lead pacer, Fatima Sana struggled to make inroads in the power play. The inexperienced pace attack meant that the batters were settled by the time the spinners came on.

Hemp and Co. would be hoping that Baig is fit and available for selection ahead of the second ODI on Thursday (November 11). In the spin department, Anam Amin was th most impressive bowler, but she had very little help from Sadia Iqbal and Nashra Sandhu. With the series on the line, Pakistan spinners will be keen to come back stronger in the second ODI.

For West Indies, it was a clinical performance in the first ODI. Deandra Dottin and Rashada Williams got off to a good start. The former went on to register her highest ODI score. Hayley Matthews did her part with a crucial partnership alongside Dottin in the middle-order. The allrounder had a good series against Pakistan in July. West Indies would want Matthews to continue her form in the lead up to the ICC World Cup Qualifiers.

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Stafanie Taylor and Kyshona Knight got out early, but it is not something the team management would lose their sleep over. With Shemaine Campbelle getting some crucial game time, the first ODI was everything they could have asked for after landing in Pakistan.

Though Taylor did not bowl much, other bowlers did their job to perfection, making her comeback easy. Matthews and Anisa Mohammed were impressive in the middle-overs after Shakera Selman provided those crucial early breakthroughs.

If anything, West Indies will try and put themselves in different scenarios to prepare for the World Cup Qualifiers. For example, they would want to chase totals, provided Taylor wins the toss on Thursday.

A lot rides on the availability of Khan and Baig for Pakistan. If the hosts were to go without their experienced pros, it could be another tough day in the middle for them. Will Pakistan come back strong to keep the series alive?

Squads:

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (captain), Anisa Mohammed (vice-captain), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Deandra Dottin, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Qiana Joseph, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Shakera Selman, Rashada Williams

Pakistan: Javeria Khan (c), Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Kainat Imtiaz, Maham Tariq, Muneeba Ali, Nashra Sandhu, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin and Sidra Nawaz (wk)

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