ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (CMC):
West Indies will be looking to draw confidence from their encouraging outing in last week’s first Test and avoid yet another series defeat, when they take on Pakistan in the second Test starting here today.
Despite the loss in Dubai, West Indies gave a fighting display to take the historic day/night contest down to the final hour of the last day, before succumbing to the hosts by 56 runs and fall behind 1-0 in the three-Test series.
And captain Jason Holder said yesterday his side would be taking the momentum gained from that game into the next five days at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
“We’re obviously confident. We played a very good Test match in Dubai and were very competitive,” an upbeat Holder told media here.
“We had some great positives coming out of that game, so for me, it’s just to transfer it into this game. Abu Dhabi maybe a fortress for Pakistan, but we’ve shown we can compete in this series and we’re very, very confident heading into the second Test match.”
He added: “Obviously, we did some good things in the last Test match. We didn’t get over the line and everybody was disappointed there. We showed hurt, we spoke about it, and refreshed our minds and we’re ready to go again.”
Coming off embarrassing clean sweeps in the preceding Twenty20 and one-day international series, West Indies’ woes looked set to continue when Pakistan piled up a massive 579 for three declared in their first innings.
But the Caribbean side responded with 357, then bundled out their opponents for 123, to open up the game with a gettable target of 346 to win.
They were competitive thanks mainly to Darren Bravo’s eighth Test hundred, but once he departed in the final hour on the last day, the Windies challenge faded.
Holder said his side were focussed on making the improvements necessary to come away with victory.
“We need to sharpen up on the little mistakes we made in the field. I think we can be a bit better in the field and obviously cut down on those no-balls which we bowled,” he pointed out.
As it did in Dubai, the spotlight will again fall on the spin attack of both sides. West Indies will depend heavily on leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo whose career-best eight-wicket haul in the second innings in Dubai, blew the game open.
Pakistan, however, will be hoping for better from leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. Yasir picked up five in the Windies first innings, but was largely ineffective on a final-day wicket and claimed just two scalps in the second innings.
Holder said he expected the bulk of the work to be shouldered by the spinners and said it was important that their seamers understood their roles.
“The wickets are very good. Both sides struggled to get wickets with their seamers [in the last Test],” the 24-year-old pointed out.
“Both spinners dominated in the first Test match, so it’s a situation where the pacers have to be a little bit more patient, let the spinners get into their work, and be a bit more aggressive.”
He continued: “Pakistan has a quality spinner in Yasir Shah and they’ve got an inexperienced one in Nawaz and the bulk of the work will be heavily dependent on Yasir Shah.
“I thought we coped with him really well in the second innings. He was not as effective, though it was a day-five pitch and I think the more time we spend on each wicket we bat on, the better off for us.”
Pakistan have been boosted by the return of veteran right-hander Younis Khan who missed the Dubai Test as he recovered from the effects of dengue. With nearly 10,000 Test runs, over 100 Tests and already 32 hundreds, Younis is a much feared campaigner but Holder said while they respected him, they would not be intimidated.
“He’s a quality player [and] coming off a double in his last innings in England, there’s no doubt the calibre of player he is but cricket is played on the day and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Holder asserted.
The game bowls off at 1 a.m. (Jamaica time).