BRIDGETOWN: With an emphatic win in the opening Test in Kingston, Pakistan are on the brink of recording their first-ever series victory in the Caribbean when Misbah-ul-Haq’s men lock horns with a frail-looking home team in the second Test starting here at the Kensington Oval on Sunday.
Since making their first tour to the Caribbean back in 1957-58 under Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Pakistan have so far played seven Test series in the West Indies without recording a series success.
Out of the above-mentioned series, Pakistan registered well-earned 1-1 draws in 1988, 2005 and 2011 which was the green-shirts’ last tour to the West Indies when Misbah led the side.
Struggling hosts retain squad
Overall, Pakistan have featured in 24 Tests in West Indies, including the first Test of the ongoing series, winning six of them while losing 11. Seven matches ended in draws.
Skipper Misbah, 42, has found inspiration playing in his final series and looks determined to power his men to a series triumph to end his gruelling international career on a high.
Jason Holder, Misbah’s opposite number, has shown signs of becoming a world-class all-rounder but he is in desperate need of support.
The West Indies need to show more application with bat in hand and more ruthlessness with the ball.
For Pakistan it will be about staying on a roll and maintaining control of the series and they will be a little concerned about the openers lack of form.
With ball in hand leg-spinner Yasir Shah and pace merchant Mohammad Amir have ensured that there is a balance in the Pakistan attack and helped peg the hosts back after a good start.
While the West Indies bowlers looked better than their batting they need to find a way to be more consistent, it is key that Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel continue the progress they have made in the last few months.
The hosts’ fragile batting leaves Pakistan as firm favourites to claim a series win here in Bridgetown.
Shai Hope finds himself in a position where he is probably the best batsman in the West Indies team but he now needs to prove it with a big Test knock.
Shannon Gabriel is the cornerstone of the West Indies pace attack and they will desperately need him to come up with the goods in Bridgetown.
Misbah has found form once again and should Pakistan find themselves in trouble he will be the man to get them out of it.
Amir will look to build on the career best 6-44 he took in the first innings of the first Test and continue to tear through the Windies batting.
Meanwhile, the West Indies have retained the 13-member squad, which played the Kingston Test, for the second Test.
The third Test of the series is scheduled to be held in Roseau, Dominica from May 10-14.
WEST INDIES: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Vishal Singh, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood, Shannon Gabriel, Devendra Bishoo, Alzarri Joseph, Miguel Cummins.
PAKISTAN: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wicket-keeper), Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (England) and Bruce Oxenford (Australia)
TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (England)
Match referee: Chris Broad (England).