April 30, 2017
Start time 10:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Now that the buzz around Younis Khan’s 10,000th run is over, the focus shifts to the dreary business of the Test series unfolding around it. Weather delays and uninspiringly sedate batting at times from both sides give the first Test a dreary, old-fashioned feel. However, there were absorbing periods that left you wanting more, particularly in the last session of the fourth day, when Yasir Shah beat West Indies into submission just as the Test threatened to meander to a forgettable draw.
The build-up to the second Test is not so different to the first, particularly for the West Indies, who must go back to the drawing board. It’s all very well working out the opposition’s weaknesses and setting elaborate plans, but all that is unlikely to bear fruit when you then go on to lose five wickets in the first 30 overs of the game, and drop straightforward catches, like they did in Kingston.
From Pakistan’s point of view, it was as efficient a Test as they could have hoped for. They were on top right from the start. Mohammad Amir turned in his best performance since his return to cricket, Yasir did what world class second-innings spinners need to do, and their middle order piled on the runs. Their only concerns might centre around the seemingly intractable puzzle of an endlessly misfiring top order, a concern only appeased by the fact that it was well hidden in Jamaica.
West Indies LWLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
In a depleted side that suffers from a paucity of genuine quality, West Indies appear to have found, in Shannon Gabriel, the man who comes closest to matching that description. He was the man his captained turned to every time it looked like the West Indies were out of ideas, with the 29-year old providing the breakthrough – or at least creating chances – more often than not. His aggression cost him half his match fee in Kingston, but that sort of passion might be appreciated by the West Indies fans. On a Barbados pitch that has traditionally offered more pace and bounce than the Sabina Park surface, Gabriel is perhaps the likeliest to make the sort of telling contribution that eluded his side last game.
Ahmed Shehzad, not for the first time, finds his Test career at a precipitous stage. It is a pattern that has regularly repeated itself: inconsistency at the international level, rich form domestically, rinse, repeat. Apart from a pair of fifties, Shehzad has struggled to get going since his return to the highest level during the limited-overs leg of this tour. With Pakistan’s selectors showing impatience at the top order – Kamran Akmal has already been dropped from the Champions Trophy squad – Shehzad must be feeling the pressure of playing for his place again. Whether that stifles him or spurs him on may well have a significant outcome on the second Test.
West Indies’ squad is unchanged from the one that fell to a seven-wicket defeat in Kingston. Eyebrows were raised when Shimron Hetmyer and Vishaul Singh were both selected to make their debut in a side that already lacks experience, and one of them could make way for Jermaine Blackwood.
West Indies (possible): 1 Kieran Powell, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Jermaine Blackwood, 4 Shai Hope (wk), 5 Roston Chase, 6 Vishaul Singh/Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Shane Dowrich, 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Shannon Gabriel
Pakistan could stick to the side that won the first Test, even though Misbah-ul-Haq did say they would consider the possibility of playing two spinners. That would also give them a fifth bowling option, so necessary in an attack that relies on three fast bowlers.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Azhar Ali, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Mohammad Abbas, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Yasir Shah
Pitch and conditions
The forecast for the second Test is better than the it was in Kingston, even though rain is expected on the fourth and fifth days. The surface in Bridgetown is generally hard and fast, and if it is overcast, the toss could assume great importance. Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, felt the pitch looked “unusually” dry on the eve of the Test, so spin could play a fairly significant role as the match goes on.
Stats and trivia
- If Pakistan win this Test, it will mark their first ever Test series win in the Caribbean.
- The first Test marked the sixth time two Pakistan bowlers took six or more wickets in a Test. The last time this happened was in 2002.
“It’s interesting. I’ve been out there a few times since I’ve been back here, and it looks pretty dry – unusually so. Normally you would expect a little bit more in terms of the surface but it looks quite dry, it’ll be interesting to see if it’ll last all five days or if it deteriorates quickly. Not quite sure, so it’s just a matter for us, especially, to make use of our first innings when we bat.”
West Indies captain Jason Holder takes stock of the playing surface at the Kensington Oval