Pakistan go into the first Test against the West Indies today at the back of two successive One-Day International (ODI) defeats and controversy surrounding limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi, whose remarks on team selection have not sat down well with the country’s cricket board. However, a century by Test captain Misbahul Haq and impressive performance by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and opener Mohammad Hafeez in a tour match should put that behind when the team sets foot at the Providence Stadium in Guyana. A lot at stake for both teams While Pakistan aim to win their first Test series in the Caribbean, West Indies will want to taste their first win in cricket’s longest format since February 2009 when they defeated England at Kingston, Jamaica. With this in mind, a lot is at stake in the 22nd Test on West Indies soil between the two sides. For Pakistan, it is about continuing the winning momentum after being victorious in their last series against New Zealand. But for West Indies, who happened to have found some renewed energy – especially in the last ODI that they won by 10 wickets – to translate it into the Test matches. They will be bolstered by the return of experienced batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul who will accompany veteran player Ramnaresh Sarwan in the middle-order. And while Chris Gayle is enjoying his Indian Premier League outing, West Indies seemed to have found a stable opener in Lendl Simmons, who amassed 279 runs in the five-match ODI series. The hosts will also bank a lot on promising leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who has troubled Pakistani batsmen throughout the tour taking wickets at regular intervals, is likely to make his Test debut today. Pakistan suffer setback Meanwhile, Pakistan’s bowling attack will be spearheaded by fast-bowler Umar Gul who joins the team after he opted to rest following the World Cup in the subcontinent. His return and the immaculate form of left-armer Wahab Riaz will be key for Pakistan. However, the visitors will need to fill in the gap left by former captain Younus Khan, who left the tour due to his brother’s death.
By: The Express Tribune