KINGSTON, Jamaica – Vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood says he is confident West Indies can capture the two-Test series against Pakistan, once the batting group remains disciplined in the second Test starting on Friday.
The home side won a nail-biter in the first Test, chasing a modest 168 to win by a single wicket deep in the final session of last Sunday’s penultimate day at Sabina Park.
Blackwood, his captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Jason Holder were the only Windies batsmen with half-centuries in the contest but the Jamaican said the entire batting group were working extremely hard behind the scenes.
“Once we go out there and play some hard cricket I don’t see why we can’t beat Pakistan,” Blackwood told an online media conference on Wednesday.
“We saw glimpses of batsmen showing application and once we can go out there and bat for longer periods, I don’t see why we can’t win this series because the bowlers are always doing an awesome job for us.”
He continued: “It’s very simple. Once each individual can play their role, and bowlers do their part and batsmen do their part, I can’t see why we can’t win the second Test.
“We saw some glimpses [of West Indies strength] in the first Test match – the skipper Kraigg Brathwaite batted beautifully in the first innings [along with] Roston Chase, Jason Holder, myself and Joshua Da Silva.
“So we’ve seen the glimpse and once we can come now and put it together, I don’t see why the batting unit can’t make over 350 runs.”
On a pitch assisting seamers, West Indies managed 253 in the first innings to lead Pakistan by 36 but then suffered a second innings meltdown, and needed the steely resolve of the tail-enders to get over the line.
The performance came against the backdrop of the recent South Africa tour when West Indies were rolled over 2-0, in one of their most shocking batting displays in recent times when no batsman managed a series aggregate above triple figures.
Pointing to the 2-0 series win over Bangladesh and the nil-all draw against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, Blackwood said there were signs West Indies batsmen were understanding their responsibilities.
“We’re making improvements in baby steps but it’s a process. We’re working really hard as a batting unit although we don’t get the scores that we want,” he explained.
“I see this unit as a team of wonderful players who want to do well for all the West Indian people, themselves and their families, and everyday we go to train we put in 150 per cent in anything that we do.
“The batters are working very hard with the batting coaches and it’s going to take some time but I can see [we’re improving].
“In Antigua against Sri Lanka the batsmen stood up. It’s just that series against South Africa that we didn’t [really perform] but hopefully all the batters can come to the party [in this Test] and I know that the batsmen are very hungry to get out there and get some runs.”
Criticised in the past for his rash stroke-play, Blackwood once again fell to an injuicious shot in the first innings after he had gotten a start of 22.
However, he said aggression would remain a key facet of his game, even if recognising the need to be more selective.
“From the last Test match you can see that most of the batsmen went out there and applied themselves,” Blackwood pointed out.
“Even myself in the first innings batted over 50-odd balls but in Test cricket, I generally want to bat over 150 balls.
“Once we can get down to ball selection – select the right balls to score and the right ones to defend – that is going to be much better for us but I can only speak for myself.
“I am an aggressive batsman and I’m always going to play aggressive but once I can curb it a little bit, I don’t think my team will kill me for that because as you see in the last game on the fourth day on that pitch, if I didn’t go out there and get that aggressive, we could be talking a different thing today.” (CMC)