Windies to look wrap up ODI series with Pakistan standing on shaky grounds

West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor © Cricket West Indies

When Pakistan’s tour of West Indies started, it was expected that the visitors would be competitive in the series against a West Indies side that hasn’t had much game time in recent times. But five matches later, they haven’t won a match and the hosts are increasingly looking better as the series progressed. With the first two ODIs at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua done and as both sides move to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Pakistan are in dire need of bringing their A-game to stay alive in the series when they play the third ODI on Monday (July 12).

When the series started the biggest worry for the hosts was their over-reliance on their mercurial skipper Stafanie Taylor and she came to the party for them as she did on many occasions in the past to guide them home in a tough chase in the first ODI with a magnificent century after taking three wickets with the ball. They still needed their other experienced players to put up their hands if they were to challenge teams consistently and they did just that in the second ODI with West Indies bowling out Pakistan for a paltry score of 120 without any contribution from Taylor and she wasn’t needed to bat as they romped home to an eight-wicket win with almost 20 overs to spare.

Under-performing Hayley Matthews put on a match-winning all-round effort taking two wickets for just 17 runs from her eight overs before giving West Indies a solid start with a well-made 49. Even though she was run out one short of the half-century milestone, she was adjudged the player of the match and her form will hold the hosts in good stead. Earlier, one of the other key members of the side, Anisa Mohammed led the four-pronged spin attack with aplomb taking four of Pakistan’s wickets on a ‘return to form performance’ against her favourite opposition. Karishma Ramharack also chipped in with two wickets meant West Indies now have a well-rounded attack with the two pacers also looking good and restricting the Pakistan openers with early blows.

On the batting front, there were more ticks for the Windies side as opener Kyshona Knight showed a lot of promise during the unbeaten 39-run knock in the second match after Chedean Nation and Britney Cooper providing Taylor with some support. Everything looks rosy for the visitors as they look all set to wrap up the series on Monday.

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All this leads to the question of Pakistan’s form as they stare at yet another series defeat and what they could possibly do to plug the holes in their performances in recent times. They have been continuously suffering from the lack of runs from the top order leaving not enough runs for a promising bowling unit to defend. Although Muneeba Ali in the first two games and Ayesha Zafar in the first match showed a lot of promise, they couldn’t build on their starts and the form of Javeria Khan, who had five single-digit scores in the series so far, and Omaima Sohail at three and four hasn’t helped the cause.

Pakistan’s middle order consisting of Nida Dar and Aliya Riaz has been bailing out the side in recent times but despite Dar’s fifty in the first match, they weren’t able to post a healthy total on the board and they just collapsed from bad to worse after Riaz’s dismissal in the second to be bundled out for just 120.

Among the bowlers, Diana Baig looked good without taking many wickets while Dar was her frugal self and gave away on 13 runs from her ten overs in the second game. Nashra Sandhu, who had good outings in South Africa, has struggled, and to be fair to her and the rest of the bowlers, Pakistan haven’t put up many challenges to West Indies batting even as they were trying their feet on their return to international cricket and the format after a long break.

With an extended squad in town, Pakistan would ask themselves what are the choices they could make to change their fortunes in the tour. Will they think about bringing young Ayesha Naseem in place of Sohail or is there a possibility of Khan pushing herself down the order? All of it remains to be seen when they take on the field on Monday against an increasingly confident West Indies, who will be looking to win their first ODI series since 2017.

Can Pakistan stay firm on shaky grounds or will Taylor and her side will have the last laugh?

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