THE three ODI games in the Pakistan series, played on June 8,10 and 12 at Multan, pretty well summed up the problems of West Indies cricket at the moment.
They could not come to terms with the opposition, led by Babar Azam, a super batsman.
It is deflating to all West Indian fans that WI were unable to pull off a win in even one game. It certainly tells a tale.
In the first, Nicholas Pooran, WI captain, won the toss and elected to bat. This decision revealed growing confidence in his team’s batting, by expecting them to establish a solid score, thus placing the Pakistani batsmen under some pressure.
In an ODI (50 overs), unless a pitch is judged to be bowler-friendly, then the right decision is to bat first. Batsmen are then supposed to take advantage of a good batting pitch to build a challenging score. The opposing batsmen then are forced to maintain a demanding scoring rate while chasing. A wicket or two falling at the right time for the bowling team could make this a daunting task for the batting side, because of the psychological impact it could cause.
Shai Hope went on to display his prowess by scoring an excellent century. He was out to an unbecoming stroke, a wild swing that he missed and was bowled.
However, one cannot take away from his innings of 127, which made one wonder why he’s not in the Test team, where openers to accompany Kraigg Brathwaite, are at a premium.
This was followed by a classy 70 from Sharmah Brooks.
A lower-order surge helped the score to close at 305 for eight wickets, an impressive total to defend.
Babar showed his world-class skills, scoring yet another hundred. WI gave the home team a strong challenge, losing the game in the last over. Kyle Mayers, Romario Shepherd and Hayden Walsh were too loose in the bowling department, which made the difference at the end.
While the first game was even, the second was a giveaway. Babar won the toss and chose to bat first. The wicket this time was turning appreciably. Chasing 276 to win, WI folded meekly for 155. The innings, on this pitch, exposed the frail technique of WI batsmen and their vulnerability to spin.
The slow left-arm orthodox of Mohammad Nawaz (4/19 in ten overs), defeated the WI batsmen to the point of confusion. His length and line were relentless, never allowing the batsman any respite.
His opposite number, Akeal Hosein, while bowling well, did not have the experience to take full advantage of the conditions. The leg spinner Walsh, again, was unimpressive. On a pitch conducive to his leg breaks, he didn’t remove a single batsman. He bowled ten overs, going wicketless for 62 runs.
Of the other bowlers, only Alzarri Joseph and Hosein looked the part. Nonetheless, they need to have a more standardised line and length in their efforts for limited-overs.
Over to the third game.
Sometimes, if nothing much is happening, a captain of a fielding team may impulsively introduce a bowler who is not a regular, to bowl an over or two, to use as bait, to coax a batsman into doing something foolish. Pooran, imaginatively, used this ploy.
It worked. And he picked up four wickets for 48 runs with slow gentle off-breaks. I admired this move, which caught the batsmen unawares.
However, his batting is still woefully weak and irresponsible. When your team’s score is 69 for three in pursuit of 270, with 15 overs gone and 33 still to bowl, a lofted shot to deep mid-wicket with a fieldsman in place is not an option; especially when your personal score is just 11.
A captain’s innings was called for at this time. Pooran, with his low run of scores in the recent past, should be the first one to be ultra-cautious when approaching an innings. His reckless attitude is not worthy of an international captain, and I hope he will settle down and bat for his team.
Akeal Hosein (60) had a brave and brilliant innings in a losing cause. WI batsmen showed no confidence in their approach to score the 270 they were set to win.
Pakistan were the better team in the second and third games, on turning wickets.
WI batsmen don’t possess the technique to counteract testing bowling. The vital requirements of concentration, confidence and intelligence are non-existent. Coaches should identify and correct these shortcomings.