PREVIEW: 1st Digicel Test (West Indies v Pakistan)
Georgetown, Guyana – West Indies will look to get the better of Pakistan when the two teams face each other in the first Digicel Test of the two-match series starting on Thursday.
First ball at the Guyana National Stadium is 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time).
The regional side lost the one-day series 3-2 after trailing 3-0 at one stage, and will be hoping to turn around their fortunes in the game’s longer version, and walk away from the tour with some form of success. A win in the series would see the Windies earn valuable points in the ICC Test match rankings and move up one spot to sixth place.
Captain Darren Sammy said the 13-man squad had remained focussed and were upbeat ahead of the clash. The starting 11s for both teams will be named before toss.
“We believe we can win the series. We believe this because we have worked hard in the build-up to the series and we know we have the ability to perform on home turf and get the better of the Pakistanis. We saw an improved batting performance in the last two matches of the One-Day series and everyone in the team is feeling confident and fully prepared,” Sammy said.
Though encouraged by the comeback in the ODIs, Sammy said it was important his side changed gears as Test cricket represented new challenges.
He admitted that the batsman had some difficulties in the first part of the One-Day Series, but rebounded well in the last two matches. He noted that batting consultant Desmond Haynes had been able to make headway and there had been improvement.
“It’s a different format … the difficulty we had was rotating the strike and getting runs quickly,” “It’s not like it is in the one-day format where you have to look for runs quickly. It’s about occupying the crease and putting up good totals. Desmond has been doing some good work [with the batsmen] and the guys look ready to go for the Test match,” Sammy pointed out.
The batting will centre around the veterans Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, who will be playing in front their home fans in Guyana. There is also a lot of excitement surrounding the possible Test mach debut of leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo. Opener Lendl Simmons is in form following four successive half-centuries in the ODIs and stylish stroke-maker Darren Bravo is also due runs.
Pakistan have been boosted by the return of strike bowler Umar Gul but have lost experienced batsman Younis Khan who was forced to return home following the death of his brother.
They have won just four of the 21 Tests they have played in the Caribbean and have never won a series in the region.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Brendan Nash (vice captain), Devendra Bishoo, Carlton Baugh, Darren Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith; Ottis Gibson (Head Coach)
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Abdur Rehman, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Hammad Azam, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Salman, Saeed Ajmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Taufiq Umar, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz; Waqar Younis (Head Coach)
Umpires: Billy Bowden, Tony Hill
Television umpire: Asoka DeSilva
Fourth official: Norman Malcolm
ICC Match referee: Alan Hurst