West Indies look to carry pink-ball fight into red-ball contest

Match facts

October 21-25, 2016
Start time 10am local time (0600 GMT)

West Indies will hope Darren Bravo’s outstanding form in Asia continues in the remainder of the series © Getty Images

Big Picture

After lop-sided T20 and ODI series, West Indies fought to make the day-night Test in Dubai a thriller. While Pakistan eventually won in the last hour of play on the fifth day, they had to work hard for the 1-0 lead as West Indies showed resilience for two long days, thanks to Darren Bravo’s plucky 116. Bravo held the side’s chase together, taking the team to within 83 runs of the target of 346 before being dismissed.

West Indies also had other strong performances – Devendra Bishoo’s record 8 for 49, and Marlon Samuels’ 76 in the first innings – and through their performance in the second innings appeared to have regrouped as a team after the limited-overs losses.

The attention on the day-night Test and the pink ball will now shift to the traditional day game and the red ball. For Pakistan, the likely return of Younis Khan, who was added to the squad after recovering from dengue fever, will be a boost to a batting line-up that floundered without his calming influence in the second innings in Dubai. Azhar Ali’s form at the top of the order will be important, as will Yasir Shah, but West Indies can look at Bravo’s innings in Dubai for lessons on how to tackle Yasir. A 3-0 scoreline is not unlikely for Pakistan but they will probably have to work harder for it than they had to in the limited-overs series.

Form guide

Pakistan: WWLLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies: LDLDL

In the spotlight

Inducted into the opening slot, Sami Aslam has struggled to convert his starts into big runs in the five Tests he has played in. In Dubai, he scored 90 in the first innings and 44 in the second but couldn’t go on and reach a century. Similarly, on the tour of England, he scored 82 and 70 in the Edgbaston Test.

The conditions in the UAE make it tough for fast bowlers to get wickets, and West Indies’ troubles have been compounded by the lack of effectiveness of frontline bowler Shannon Gabriel. Although he consistently bowled at speeds of over 140kph in Dubai, Gabriel couldn’t find the wickets while also struggling to control the run rate as much as his Pakistan counterpart Wahab Riaz. His trouble with no-balls in the first innings – he bowled 10 – was also an issue for West Indies. He will have to step up for them to fare better.

Team news

Babar Azam, who made his debut in Dubai, may make way for Younis Khan in the playing XI. Pakistan may also look at bringing in left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar in place of Mohammad Nawaz, who also made his debut in Dubai.

Pakistan (possible): 1 Sami Aslam, 2 Azhar Ali, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Yasir Shah, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Sohail Khan.

While there are a few weak links, West Indies may not want to tamper too much with a combination that fought hard in the first Test.

West Indies (possible): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Leon Johnson, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Miguel Cummins, 11 Shannon Gabriel.

Pitch and conditions

The pitch for the previous Test in Abu Dhabi, between England and Pakistan in October last year, drew criticism for its unresponsive nature. In matches prior to that one, however, the pitch offered some assistance to seamers and spinners. The weather is expected to be clear in Abu Dhabi for the course of the game.

Stats and trivia

  • Darren Bravo has made 1507 runs in Asia at an average of 60.28, the third-best for any overseas batsman with at least 1500 runs in Asia. Bravo has hit five hundreds and seven fifties in just 15 Tests in Asia
  • Misbah-ul-Haq is set to equal Imran Khan’s record of captaining Pakistan in the most Tests. The Abu Dhabi match will be Misbah’s 48th Test as captain
  • Pakistan have a 4-0 win-loss record from eight Tests in Abu Dhabi – the most they have played and won at any venue without losing a match
  • Marlon Samuels made his debut in 2000 and has played 69 Tests. He needs another 146 runs to complete 4000 runs in the format

Quotes

“I am very happy the way Pakistan won the Test, the way Azhar scored a triple hundred and joined that elite group. I was watching the match and was very excited when on the last day there were ups and downs. The way West Indies fought and Darren Bravo scored that fighting hundred, its pleasing when youngsters play like this.”
Younis Khan was watching the Dubai Test closely from the sidelines, and was happy to see a good contest

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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