After their narrow 56-run loss in the opening Test match of the Haier Cup series against Pakistan in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the West Indies now find themselves having to fight back in Abu Dhabi, which is a fortress for Pakistan.
The West Indies staged a great comeback in the opening day/night Test and after conceding 579 runs for three wickets in the first innings, routed Pakistan for 123 in the second to give themselves a chance of victory. Chasing 346 runs to win, they got a brilliant 116 from Darren Bravo which took them close but not over the line, as they fell for 289.
Skipper Jason Holder speaking at his team’s training at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium yesterday was confident of another good showing.
“Great positives came from the opening game. We staged a good comeback and although here may be a fortress for Pakistan, we have shown that we can compete. We didn’t get over the line in the first Test, we showed some hurt and have refreshed our minds coming into this Test match.”
The Barbadian all rounder is calling for an improved performance in his team’s out cricket.
“We could be a bit better in the field, cut down the no balls, we saw one in the first game which really cost us. We have prepared for this game and we need to stick to our plan for a bit longer to be successful.”
Holder said his team has come to terms with the tracks in the UAE and will show an improved performance.
“With these pitches you have here, one has to be a bit more patient. The spinners did get wickets in the first Test but we need to allow the spinners to get into their work, to see the results.”
After the experiment of the pink ball in the first Test, the players will be back to the red ball for this match.
“We are accustomed playing red ball cricket and we had to adjust to the pink ball and also adjust the body clock, playing in the afternoon and into the night. Now we are back playing in the day with the red ball and this should be more familiar for the guys.”
Looking at the opposition, he said they were wary of Pakistan’s main threat in Yasir Shah.
“Pakistan has a quality spinner in Yasir Shah and one inexperienced one in (Mohammad) Nawaz. We know that the bulk of the work will fall on Yasir and we have a plan for him. He was not as effective as he would have liked on a day five pitch in the first Test. We need patience dealing with him as there is a saying that the longer you stay at the crease the easier it becomes and we just need to do that.”
He also took note of the return of batting mainstay Younis Khan.
“Younis is a quality player and coming off his last innings he is coming off a double hundred, so we know of his calibre. However cricket is played on the day and we saw some footage of him and have a plan for him.”
Pakistan has played eight matches at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium and has been unbeaten there. They have won four of the matches, whilst the other four have ended in drawn matches. The West Indies have never played a Test match here before. The pitch here gives assistance to the fast bowlers earlier on and because it is not enclosed, it allows for swing. Pakistan though has shown that they can make loads of runs here, as they have gotten over 500 runs on four occasions and 400 on two occasions.
While the West Indies is expected to remain unchanged, Pakistan will more than likely make two changes, in that Younis Khan is in for Babar Azam, fast bowler Sohail Khan may be out and Zulfiqar Babar, the left arm spinner, included.
Play gets underway at 10 am (2 am T&T time).
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice captain), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Leon Johnson, Alzarri Joseph, Marlon Samuels and Jomel Warrican.
Pakistan: Pakistan: Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Misbah ul Haq (captain), Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Amir, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar and Sohail Khan.