Pakistan-West Indies, and What Lies Ahead

The West Indies tour of the UAE has been a tough one so far for the visiting side. The islanders crashed to a 111-run defeat last night to compound the misery of losing the T20 series 3-0 as world champions. While they are without the services of Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle, perhaps the man they’re missing the most is their maverick all-rounder Andre Russell. The team looks uninspired and lethargic, and the only one up for the competition appears to be Sunil Narine, with tight bowling and some lusty late blows with the bat.

While the West Indies team appears to be struggling in the aftermath of their board’s surprising decision to fire World T20 winning coach Phil Simmons, things have started to look up for the Pakistan limited overs side at last.Captain Azhar Ali has struggled in the role since he took over from Misbah ul Haq in 2015, but with the support of the board and assistance of Sarfraz – himself at the helm  in T20’s  and Azhar’s deputy in ODIs- team has started to come good.

Pakistan have won their last 6 limited overs matches, finishing the tour of England on a high and dominating so far at “home”. There have been some prominent factors in the upturn- the emergence of young talent being the most noteworthy. Players like Imad Wasim and Hassan Ali have changed the outlook of the limited overs side.

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Pakistani batting prodigy Babar Azam celebrates his first ODI ton.

The last twelve months, Pakistan team has struggled with the team combination in limited overs cricket, having lost the likes of Misbah and Shahid Afridi. But now, there appears to be a good balance in the side in all the positions. We have the domineering opener in Sharjeel Khan, the calm and carrying the innings type in Azhar Ali, and the mix of talents young and old- like Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik- in the middle. Sarfraz has been a reliable player ever since he came back in 2014, and continues to delight the fans. Imad Wasim has been a great asset with the bat, surprising all with his cool in the latter stages of the innings. With the ball, he has been absolutely fantastic, drying up the runs and picking up the wickets on regular intervals. Mohammad Nawaz is developing into an able deputy for Imad, both with bat and ball. When it comes to fast bowling resources, Pakistan is bursting with talent even in the absence of Irfan and Junaid, and despite the sad fading away of Umar Gul. Mohammad Amir is nearly back to his best., and Hassan Ali provides the right-arm option to an attack heavy on the left-armers.

All in all, things are looking up, and Pakistan can breathe a sigh of relief once more after a tumultuous twelve months. With the win against West Indies, Pakistan became the second most successful team in ODIs (in terms of matches won), overtaking India. With the tours of New Zealand and Australia in sight, Pakistani fans have the right to feel optimistic given the current form of the team. Hopefully the team continues on to greater things.

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