Barbados, April 28: The day, the occasion and the venue couldn't be more perfect for West Indies to stage a comeback in the ensuing One Day International series against Pakistan. 2-0 down in the five match series certainly needs for a lot of courage to comeback and possibly win the series and for West Indies the stage is perfectly set to turn things around.
The third match of the series is to be played at Barbados, a venue where West Indies in the past have so badly mauled visiting teams that they have become parts of cricketing folklore. True that the current team is no where near the glorious days of carribean cricket, but then there can always be a day to start turning things around and what better day if the match is on April 28, the Heroes Day in Barbados.
Moving aside from the psychological aspect to the cricketing part, West Indies have played really bad to find themselves in this precarious position. They must now pull up all strings to make a match of the contest. The absence of Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard must be hurting their prospects, but that should set the stage for the current crop to establish themselves.
The Carribean batsmen must brace themselve for more spin as Pakistan will try to use it more often, especially after the success they have enjoyed in the first wo matches. Young Darren Bravo, who is being earmarked for potential greatness, has to show that he isn't a mere copy of the legendary Brian Lara and has to apply himself a bit more to get the results.
Apart from the much-needed steel in batting, West Indies would do well to tinker with their bowling line-up and show flexibility to accomodate bowlers on the basis of the pitch they have on offer. Their fast-bowling stocks are depleted to say the least and if they get a rank turner then having a three-man spin attack wouldn't be a bad option. And if they manage to get past Misbah, then they can really pressurise the Pakistani lower middle order.
If West Indies win the toss and with pitch permitting, they would do themselves a grand favour if they opt to bat second.
Pakistan haven't done a single thing wrong in this series so far and things have to get really worse for them to lose the match. It won't be a surprise if they seal the series at Barabados.
Contests to look out for:
Hafeez vs Darren Bravo:
The two youngsters are looked up to as future superstars. Although Hafeez has stolen the so far, young Bravo has got the technique to counter the off-spinner's threat. And with Hafeez opening the batting for Pakistan, Bravo can secure his team a brownie point by going all out against him and damaging the confidence he draws from his bowling.
Roach vs Misbah: Roach is fast emerging as a reliable and lethal fast bowler and if he manages to get past the uber-cool Misbah ul Haq, he will certainly do his team a world of good.
Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Hammad Azam, Mohammad Salman (wk), Shahid Afridi (c), Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal
Devon Smith, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Kirk Edwards, Dwayne Bravo, Carlton Baugh (wk), Darren Sammy (c), Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Anthony Martin