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West Indies aim to level series

Source : AGENCIES
Last Updated: Tue, Jul 16, 2013 04:50 hrs
Afridi

In the wake of a thumping 126-run series-opening victory, Pakistan will again seek to capitalise on the struggles of the West Indies batting line-up for the second One-Day International at the Guyana National Stadium on Tuesday.

Sunday's capitulation for just 98 represented a continuation of the declining performances of the Caribbean side's batsmen.

At the preceding Tri-Nations Series also involving Sri Lanka and eventual winners India, West Indies won their first two matches in Jamaica but were eliminated from the final on the back of heavy defeats in their remaining encounters in Trinidad with the team managing totals of 171 and 190 for nine.



"It's about a lack of confidence among the batters," West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo lamented following the humiliating loss in front of a full house on Sunday.

"When you're not scoring runs, things just don't seem to go your way. It's really tough."

Compounding the woes of the home side is the fact that their only other batting option in the 13-man squad, Devon Smith, failed to score in the two innings he played during the Tri-Nation Series.

It suggests therefore that the West Indies essentially have no choice but to persist with the same combination for the second match in the hope that they can come good against a top-class bowling line-up and in conditions that Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has acknowledged are very challenging.

All eyes would again be on Shahid Afridi, who destroyed West Indies in his comeback game. Pakistan ran away with the game, thanks to Afridi's all-round efforts - the all-rounder slammed a quickfire 76 with the bat and then returned to take 7/12 with the ball as the hosts collapsed for 98 in 41 overs.

Though both teams struggled with their batting on what was clearly a difficult pitch, Afridi's brilliance stood out. He has often been blamed for throwing his wicket away in a bid to accelerate but on Sunday, he clobbered the Windies attack on a surface many batsmen would have been scared to attempt any of his audacious strokes.

Afridi will of course be key in the second ODI today, also to be played at the same venue. West Indies have now lost three successive games at home and would be hard pressed to set that right. They are obviously demoralised after a poor batting performance and the spin attack from the visitors would be playing on their minds - the senior Windies batsmen will have to step up against the likes of Afridi and Saeed Ajmal.

Pakistan, meanwhile, have their own set of problems to deal with. Indeed, they had the better attack for a pitch like that, but their batsmen would have to turn up a much better show. Afridi, despite his 355 ODIs, is not the type of batsman to score match after match and therefore, the openers need to lay a solid foundation and offer more support to skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who was the only other batsman to make some meaningful contribution with a patient 52.

Besides Afridi, if there is another man from either side, who could throw caution to the wind in difficult conditions, it is Chris Gayle. The southpaw is due for a big one and if he gets going, no amount of spin or pace will be enough to stop those big sixes. Gayle has been through a slump after his century against Sri Lanka in Kingston and after that humiliating defeat against Pakistan, he would be itching to have a go at their bowlers.

Probable Playing XI:

Pakistan 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Asad Ali, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Irfan

West Indies 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Kemar Roach/Tino Best, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Jason Holder

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