PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – West Indies will be seeking to rediscover their batting form, as they go in search of an all-important series-levelling victory in the second Twenty20 International of the four-match series at the Queen’s Park Oval Thursday.
The Caribbean side, who easily chased down an imposing 193 to reach the Twenty20 World Cup final almost a year ago, have in recent times become almost unrecognizable and have looked a shadow of the unit that won the title in that tournament. In their last four outings the West Indies have recorded scores of 115, 144, 103 and 111.
In last Sunday’s opener at Kensington Oval, the Windies slumped from 35 for one to 49 for six in the 11th over after being asked to bat, a scenario captain Carlos Brathwaite said Wednesday needed to be rectified.
“[Against] Pakistan [last year] we found ourselves 20 for three and 20 for four at the end of the first six [overs],” he told reporters ahead of the contest at Queen’s Park Oval.
“We’ve progressed to [being] 34 for one [in the last game] which we were happy with at the end of the six [overs] and now it’s just a matter of understanding what we did well in the first six, replicating that but then taking it a step further and progressing between [overs] six and 14 as well, which has always been a problem area for West Indies but one which we are addressing.
“We are doing it in stages. Again, we’ve conquered the first six in our opinion and it’s just a matter of getting six to 14 right. If we can have the first six, the last six and then be a lot better between six and 14, we are sure we can put up 150-plus and that would give us a better fighting chance when we go to bowl,” Brathwaite reasoned.
West Indies were dominated by Pakistan last September, crashing to a 3-0 whitewash in the United Arab Emirates, but had banked on reversing the trend on home soil.
Instead the poor results have continued on the current tour and not even the presence of the world-rated spin twin of Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree, could prevent Pakistan taking a 1-0 lead in the series with a six-wicket win.
“I don’t think we put enough runs on the board and as a result of that, Pakistan’s batsmen were able to play [without pressure],” Brathwaite said about Sunday’s opening loss.
“We played into their hands basically where they could’ve nudged the ones and the twos and not be under pressure to score and play the power shots. I think that negatively affected Badree and Sunil’s game plans which as we all know, they are a lot more difficult to score boundaries off of than just rotating [strike].
“So once the batters can put a decent total on the board of 150 upwards, they will come into their own even more with batsmen having to be more attacking towards them.”
All eyes will be on 18-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Khan who was sensational on debut, grabbing four wickets in four overs which cost a mere seven runs.
Brathwaite said West Indies had formulated their plans on how to combat the young bowler, and were looking towards an improved performance.
Meanwhile, bowling coach Roddy Estwick said the squad was in good spirits and would not be dwelling too much on Sunday’s poor showing. He said his charges had analysed the defeat, seen where they had gone wrong and had moved on, with the focus now on tomorrow’s game.
“Everybody is in good spirits. It’s only one game, we’ve lost that game. We’ve got to put that behind [us] as quickly as possible,” Estwick said.
“In professional cricket you’re going to lose games; you don’t want to lose too many games but you can’t harp on forever on the past. You’ve just got to focus on what is to come now and that’s the game coming up on Thursday.
“We can control that and we can control how well we play. Barbados is finished and that’s gone. You learn from it but you move on as well.”
Estwick said the players had done their homework on the threat posed by Shadab Khan.
“We’ve had a look at all the footage [of Shadab], we’ve had discussion and we’ve come up with plans so hopefully the players can go out and execute them.”
Estwick said it was also vital West Indies focused on their own game and expressed themselves in the way they knew best.
“You really don’t want to muzzle the players too much and put too much fear in there,” he warned.
“You really want them to go out and express themselves so it is very important they keep a clear mind. So even though we have our plans, you still want players to express themselves.”
The remaining games in the series will be played on Saturday and Sunday.
SQUADS:West Indies – Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Samuel Badree, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.
Pakistan – Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Ahmad Shahzad, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib