By Ravi Madholall
A buoyant Pakistani team having an unassailable 2-0 lead really demonstrates their prowess so far in this four-match T20 series against West Indies and must be psychologically advantageous for the third fixture on Saturday at the Queen’s Park, Oval, Trinidad and Tobago.
They visitors started off in clinical fashion surging to a comfortable six-wicket win in the opener at the Kensington Oval, Barbados and they, despite made a challenging 132 in the second game at the Queen’s Park Oval, were able to limit the West Indians.
They subsequently emerged with a thrilling three-run triumph, again thanks to some splendid bowling performances from debutant and 18-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Khan. He is having a dream series picking scalps at will.
In his first appearance, he had taken three wickets and then continued with the same degree of enthusiasm and dynamism by snaring four wickets that help orchestrated their victory.
What had transpired in these two matches, certainly espouses the talent that Pakistan have and particularly this version.
Their skipper Ahmed Sarfraz commented at the post-match presentation ceremony that the efforts have been very collective and not his astute leadership alone.
Pakistan, with their winning momentum especially against the T20 world Cup Champion West Indies will obviously begin proceedings in Trinidad as firm favorites.
Apart from the successful Khan, the bowling will still have the sting of fast-bowlers Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali, all capable of making early inroads on a pitch that is expected to be very animated again.
Their batting will certainly center around the experienced and inform Shoaib Malik whose batting gained tremendous maturity in this exhilarating format.
Malik scored two vital innings of 38 not out and 28 while several seasoned batsmen have shown fine forms.
Openers Kamral Akmal, Ahmed Shedzad, Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez are the men to take up the responsibility in the batting department along with Malik and Sarfraz.
West Indies, on the other hand, have to got to be more competitive and try to avoid a possible whitewash now again to the tourists. Pakistan last year whitewashed them 3-0 in Dubai in the T20 series.
Some encouraging performances according to their head-coach Stuart Law who told the Media that they need to move on.
“We [are] working extremely hard in every area, just the results are not there but we have to be persevering and determined to get past the Pakistani; we have seen lots of improvements too especially in the bowling department while the catching was superb but just the fielding was a little poor but we are learning from our mistakes,” stated the Australian Law.
In Barbados, West Indies only managed an insufficient 111 with only skipper Carlos Brathwaite getting a considerably high score (34*) while one of their most experienced batsmen Marlon Samuel displayed rich form with an entertaining 44 in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Great effort from Marlon in this game, and I am confident the other batters will come to the fore; we have continued to work hard and I am very optimistic the side will bounce back in the next match,” Law pointed-out after the second defeat.
Pugnacious middle-order batsman Keiron Pollard and another T20 specialist Lendl Simmons have not made an impression as yet and may have caused West Indies to be on the back-burner of the series.
The opening pair of Chadwick Walton and Evin Lewis promised with their brief starts but have not been able to carry on against the Pakistan’s much-vaunted bowling attack. The low-scoring affairs so far continued and this penultimate engagement is promising to be riveting alluding to the fact the Caribbean boys will be anxious to lift their game with a much-needed victory to save themselves total humiliation of a whitewash.
Law spoke greatly of the bowling which manifested well with the low restriction of two those scores. Mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine has been in terrific form and not only bowled economically but grabbed important wickets while his Trinidadian compatriot and leg-spinner Samuel Badree in good touch as well.
Pacers Jason Holder, Kesrick Williams and Brathwaite have bowled reasonably well and more penetration is essentially important for them to help sustain the scoring against some of these quality T20 batsmen.