(CMC) West Indies once again find themselves in the unenviable position of hoping to make a fresh start when they clash with Pakistan in the opening One-Day International of the three-match series here today.
The hosts were completely outplayed in the four-match Twenty20 series over the last two weeks, culminating in a 3-1 defeat and the squandering of precious momentum ahead of the One-Day series here at the Guyana National Stadium.
Despite the run of poor form, however, Captain Jason Holder said his side remained buoyant and were focused on drawing first blood.
“The mood in the camp is very good. I think everybody is positive going into this series,” the all-rounder told media here yesterday.
“There’s no point dwelling on the past. We obviously have to learn from the past, but it’s a fresh series and we’ve got something to look forward to here in Guyana.
“Guyanese people always come out and watch cricket and they are avid cricket fans, so it would be good to start the series well here in Guyana and give them something to shout about.”
Pakistan will start as favourites, especially based on recent and past history. Last October they trounced the Caribbean side in a three-match series in the United Arab Emirates.
In fact, West Indies have not beaten Pakistan in a bilateral series in 26 years, and have lost nine of the last 13 ODIs against the Asian side in the Caribbean.
Holder was quick to acknowledge the Windies’ status as underdogs in the series, but said it could also work in their favour.
“Pakistan are ranked higher than us and they’ve obviously beaten us in the last series we played in the UAE,” Holder pointed out.
“They’ve started this tour well. I believe we’re probably the underdogs right now. It’s not a bad tag to have; the expectation is pretty much on Pakistan to beat us and that’s incentive for our guys. We must go and show them that we can beat Pakistan.
“They are just one step ahead of us in the ICC rankings and I don’t think they are impossible to beat. We’ve shown we can beat them here in the T20 series. So far, we’ve played some pretty good cricket in the T20 series, but we haven’t seized crucial moments.”
As usual, the Windies batting will come firmly under the microscope, especially after its massive failings in the 3-0 whitewash to England last month and in the just concluded T20 series against Pakistan.
Once again, there is a palpable lack of experience with Kieran Powell — in only his second series since returning from a two-year break from international cricket — the most experienced of all the specialist batsmen with 31 ODIs.
Overall, Holder, at age 25, is the most experienced player with 52 matches.
Put under severe pressure in the T20 series by 18-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Khan, Holder said it was imperative the Windies batsmen did not repeat the same mistakes.
“I think it boils down to each individual. We’ve go to work out our game plans for certain bowlers,” he explained.
“We’ve struggled with a particular slow bowler in every series we have had for the last year-and-a-half. Imad Wasim was pretty successful for Pakistan in the last tour we had in the UAE; now we’ve seen Shadab who’s had some success so far.
“It’s just about counteracting their plans, seeing what they are coming up against us with and just having some plans to counteract what they come with. I don’t think it is impossible. I think we play the seamers quite well, [but] it’s just a situation where we have lost wickets in clusters and we haven’t been able to get momentum.
“Momentum is obviously something we have spoken about in team meetings, and it is important that we hold the momentum as long as possible and not give it back to Pakistan.”
WEST INDIES — Jason Holder (captain), Devendra Bishoo, Jonathan Carter, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell, Chadwick Walton.
PAKISTAN — Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman, Asif Zakir, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Fahim Ashraf, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Asghar.