WI, Pak­istan clash in his­toric pink-ball Test

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE -

WHITE­WASHED IN the pre­ced­ing Twenty20 and one-day in­ter­na­tional (ODI) se­ries and heav­ily crit­i­cised for their plethora of weak per­for­mances, West Indies face the Her­culean task of res­cu­ing a tour in cri­sis when they clash with Pak­istan in the his­toric day/night first Test, start­ing here to­day.

The Test will be the first with the pink ball un­der lights for ei­ther team, and West Indies cap­tain Jason Holder said the Windies were look­ing for­ward to the spec­ta­cle.

“We’ve had a few pink ball games in the Caribbean. I’ve per­son­ally played in a pink-ball game in the Caribbean in a first-class game and it has been im­ple­mented in the Caribbean for the last few sea­sons ... so I wouldn’t say it is some­thing new to every­body,” he noted.

“We prob­a­bly need a lit­tle more of it to get ac­cus­tomed to it and that will take time. Maybe a thought is sched­ul­ing a few more pink-ball games in do­mes­tic cricket back home if it is go­ing to be played on the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit.”

See­ing the black seam on the pink ball at night is one of the main prob­lems for bats­men.

“It’s hard to see the seam, es­pe­cially with the spin­ners. You can’t re­ally spot the seam,” Pak­istan bats­man Azhar Ali said. “It’s a first game for us with a pink ball and it’s a day-night game – play­ers have had ex­pe­ri­ence with the pink ball in the do­mes­tic cir­cuit, but in­ter­na­tion­ally it’s the first game. It’s a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge but we’re all ex­cited about it.”

The Caribbean side were a shadow of them­selves in the three-match T20 se­ries, where they were heav­ily favoured and were brushed aside 3-0 by Pak­istan. A sim­i­lar se­ries re­sult fol­lowed in the ODI se­ries, where they were dis­tinctly sec­ond best to the hosts in all depart­ments.

How­ever, with the tour flirt­ing per­ilously with disas­ter, West Indies have been pre­sented with the ideal op­por­tu­nity to halt the rut.

They are com­ing off a 2-0 de­feat in the fourTest se­ries against In­dia in the Caribbean, but un­der-pres­sure cap­tain Jason Holder told a me­dia con­fer­ence here yes­ter­day that the se­ries was a chance to press the re­set but­ton.

“Ob­vi­ously, it is a young team and we ob­vi­ously went down to In­dia in our last se­ries, but it is a fresh se­ries here,” the all-rounder said. “The guys have had a pretty good lead-up to this Test se­ries. We have been here quite a while, most of the guys had a good run out. We had a good camp in the Caribbean for the Test play­ers alone and they came here early and had a two-day game prior to the three-day game.”

He added: “I feel, prepa­ra­tion wise, we have cov­ered that. It’s just a mat­ter of ex­e­cut­ing now. From the talks in the dress­ing room, every­body seems pretty con­fi­dent, every­body is in good spirit and so, hope­fully, we can trans­fer that on to the field of play.”

West Indies en­ter the con­test at the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium on the back of pretty or­di­nary Test form. In 15 Tests over the last two years, West Indies have won a sin­gle game – against Eng­land in the Caribbean last year – and have lost 10 of those con­tests.

HEAVY DE­FEATS

The ma­jor­ity of these de­feats have been heavy ones, with three by in­nings mar­gins, another three by over 150 runs and another three by eight wick­ets or more.

Though West Indies lost the In­dia se­ries, the tour man­aged to un­earth the likes of bats­man Ros­ton Chase and fast bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cum­mins, all of whom made their de­buts with some suc­cess.

While en­dors­ing the young tal­ent in the squad, Holder said the fo­cus now would be on ex­e­cu­tion.

“We have got some young qual­ity play­ers, play­ers that have done well in youth cricket lead­ing up to first-class cricket, and ob­vi­ously have got­ten some re­sults in in­ter­na­tional cricket as well,” he pointed out.

“If you look down our line-up, Kraigg Brath­waite has been around for a lit­tle while and he has got a few cen­turies. Shane Dowrich came back into the squad in the last se­ries and did well for him­self.

“We have got the tal­ent there and it is a mat­ter of ex­e­cu­tion and just play­ing some ag­gres­sive cricket.”

Pak­istan en­ter the se­ries with the edge, hav­ing won six of their last 12 out­ings against the West Indies in the last 16 years and lost just three. They boast the likes of in-form opener Babar Azam, cap­tain Mis­bah ul-Haq, and Asad Shafiq, along with the spin duo of Yasir Shah and Zul­fiqar Babar.

The Test bowls off at 3:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. East­ern Caribbean time).

WICB ME­DIA PHOTO/PHILIP SPOONER

Miguel Cum­mins and Alzarri Joseph make ob­ser­va­tions of the pink ball dur­ing train­ing at the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Cricket Sta­dium on Tues­day.

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