West Indies vs. Pakistan Test Series Preview

Pakistan face West Indies in a Test series for the first time since 2017, with two Tests scheduled at Sabina Park.

1

Intro

After winning the T20I series (with a single win), Pakistan will be taking on West Indies for a two-match Test series from 12th August 2021. The last time both teams faced each other in a Test match was in 2017 in Dominica (the last Test played by Misbah-ul-Haq & Younis Khan). Both teams will be facing each other for the first time in the World Test Championship (WTC) in this series. This is also the first series for both sides in WTC 2021-23.

In the current ICC Test rankings, West Indies is the highest-ranked team Pakistan will be facing in away conditions in this WTC. The other two away oppositions for Pakistan are Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. They were not able to win any away Test in the last WTC, where they faced Australia, England, & New Zealand. This time, the task of gaining points in away conditions seems much easier for the Babar Azam-led side, and they will be looking to start this mission with a victory at the Sabina Park, Kingston – the venue for both Tests. We will start this series preview by looking at some of the features of this stadium.

Venue

(Note: All numbers mentioned in the ‘Venue’ heading are since 2006 unless stated otherwise. 11 Tests have been played at this venue in this period.)

Sabina Park is a dream venue for cricket fans who do not want to see matches ending without a winner. Since 2000, only one of the 18 Tests played here has ended in a draw.

Highest Results % at a Venue in Tests (Since 2000 – Min 10 Matches)

Teams

Matches

Results %

Draw

Sabina Park, Jamaica

18

94.4%

1

Headingley, Leeds

18

94.4%

1

P Sara Oval, Colombo

16

93.8%

1

SuperSport Park, Centurion

22

90.9%

2

However, the current weather in the Caribbean might increase the chances of a draw in this series. In both the Tests, there are chances of rain on almost all the days.

The cloud cover over Kingston might help the pacers. Usually, pacers have fared a lot better than the spinners. Fast bowlers average below 23 at this venue, compared to spinners, who average around 31. Surprisingly, in the first 100 overs of the innings, spinners have performed better than the pacers in only the 20 opening overs of the innings. However, they have bowled a small percentage of overs in this phase.

The dominance of pace over spin doesn’t mean that keeping any spinner in the side is useless. They start becoming helpful as the game advances. In the 3rd and 4th innings, the difference between the average & strike rate of pacers and spinners is minimal.

The improvement in bowlers’ performance with the progression of innings has benefited the team batting first. Teams batting first have won 6 of the last 10 Tests, while those batting second have won 3. The batting average in the 4 innings in the last 10 matches are 33, 26, 22, & 19, respectively.

Moving towards the individual batsmen, openers have faced a tough time at this venue. They haven’t been able to stick for a longer time at the crease or play big innings. Since 2000, 15+ stadiums have hosted more Tests than Sabina Park, but none of them has a higher number of ducks among openers than it (19 in 138 inns).

Worst Test Batting Avg for Openers at a Venue (Since 2000 – Min 3 Matches)

Venue

Inns

Avg

Sabina Park, Jamaica

138

22.2

R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo

30

23.6

Windsor Park, Dominica

38

23.6

Head to Head

While the overall Test record between Pakistan and West Indies is not dominated by one side, Pakistan have emerged as the favorites in the last two decades. Windies have won 5, lost 12, and drew 3 of the last 20 red-ball encounters against Pakistan. In the Caribbean, both sides have won 4 of their last 10 games, while 2 were drawn. Pakistan have not allowed West Indies to win any of the last 5 Test series, winning 3 themselves. The only series win for the Green Shirts against West Indies in West Indies came in 2017, which was also the last Test series between both teams.

West Indies

Squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Shai Hope, Kieran Powell, Kyle Mayers, Shamarh Brooks, Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Joshua Da Silva, Jahmar Hamilton, Rahkeem Cornwall, Jomel Warrican, Chemar Holder, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales

The West Indian red-ball team is coming off two big defeats against South Africa in Saint Lucia. Against the top 6-ranked Test teams, this was their 4th consecutive series defeat. They have won 3 and drawn 2 of their last 5 Tests against Asian teams. Windies, led by the Barbados-born Kraigg Brathwaite, will be aiming to keep this record intact.

Strengths

  • The batting unit of West Indies has some very capable players. Though not very experienced at the international level, Kyle Mayers & Nkrumah Bonner have shown potential with the bat. Mayers, who hit a double-century in his debut Test, has bagged 521 runs (@ 47) in 12 innings. Meanwhile, Bonner has scored a century and two fifties in his first 8 innings, and averages 55 in the format. Alongside these two, Roston Chase will be another threat to Pakistan’s bowling. He has scored runs consistently against Pakistan in red-ball cricket.

Roston Chase against Pakistan

Inns

12

Runs

538

Avg

53.8

50s

3

100s

2

  • Caribbean cricket fans will also have high hopes from their ex-skipper Jason Holder in this series. Holder has a phenomenal record in Tests against Pakistan and at Kingston. He has scored 355 runs (@ 44) and taken 19 wickets (@ 22) against Pakistan in Tests.

Jason Holder at Sabina Park

Bowling

Batting

Wkts

21

Runs

322

Avg

20.3

Avg

53.7

  • In addition to Holder, West Indies will have the services of the experienced Kemar Roach to strengthen their pace attack. Roach has finished as the top wicket-taker for his team in each of the last four home Test series (vs. SL, Ind, SA, & Eng). He took 45 wickets collectively with an average of only 18.3 in them. Alongside Roach, Windies also have some young pacers (Chemar Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales) and all-rounder Kyle Mayers.

Concerns

  • Shai Hope made his comeback in the series against South Africa but failed to gain form. He has no 50+ scores in his last 15 Test innings, averaging less than 20. His record against Pakistan (average of 25 in 8 inns) is not appreciable too. The continuity of his poor form will cause problems for the top-order of Men in Maroon.
  • Both Windies’ spinners who have played Tests in the Caribbean do not have a commendable record. Any turn provided by the 22-yards surface would surely be more beneficial for the away side.

Bowling Records in West Indies

Player

Mat

Wkts

Avg

Rahkeem Cornwall

4

8

59.3

Roston Chase

19

34

35.3

Possible XI

  1. Kraigg Brathwaite (C)
  2. Shai Hope
  3. Nkrumah Bonner
  4. Kyle Mayers
  5. Jermaine Blackwood
  6. Roston Chase
  7. Jason Holder
  8. Joshua Da Silva (WK)
  9. Alzarri Joseph
  10. Kemar Roach
  11. Jayden Seales

Pakistan

Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah, Zahid Mahmood, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani

The Men in Green have clean-swept their oppositions (Zim & SA) in the last two red-ball series. The last time they won an away Test series (of 2+ matches) was against West Indies in 2017. Six players from that series are part of the current squad, while their then-leader (Misbah-ul-Haq) is now Head Coach.

Strengths

  • The changes in Pakistan’s Test squad for this series include the returns of red-ball pros – Yasir Shah & Mohammad Abbas. Abbas, who made his Test debut at Kingston, has high chances of making his comeback at the same venue after doing exceptionally well in English county with the Duke’s ball. He took 27 wickets for Hampshire, averaging less than 16. Shah was the Man of the Series in the last Test series between both sides. Very few spinners have performed better than him in the Caribbean.

Best Test Bowling Avg for Spinners in WI (Min 15 Wickets)

Player

Wkts

Avg

Saeed Ajmal 

17

14.5

Shakib Al Hasan 

21

19.4

Yasir Shah 

25

22.0

Muthiah Muralitharan

37

23.0

Ravichandran Ashwin 

17

23.2

  • Most of the members of Pakistan’s batting unit have scored runs consistently in the last year. The experienced Azhar Ali has caused great difficulties for the Caribbean bowlers in the past, too. He has an average of almost 60 against Windies (42 in WI).

Pakistan Batting in Tests (Since Aug 2020)

Player

Inns

Runs

Avg

Azhar Ali

15

660

50.8

Mohammad Rizwan

13

595

49.6

Fawad Alam

13

465

42.3

Faheem Ashraf

8

357

51.0

  • Another positive for Pakistan recently is their in-form bowlers such as Hasan Ali & Nauman Ali. Nauman has taken 16 wickets in his first 4 Tests, including two 5-fers. Hasan is the top wicket-taker in Tests among pacers this year with 26 wickets (@ 13.9). These include four 5-wicket-hauls in only eight innings. Alongside these two, Shaheen Shah Afridi has also done well with the ball, taking 17 wickets (@ 21.3) in the last two series.

Concerns

  • The difficulties openers face in the Caribbean can harm Pakistan, whose openers have remained inconsistent Imran Butt has not been able to do well in the international arena, scoring only 129 runs in six innings. While Abid Ali scored 271 runs in the two innings against Zimbabwe, he struggled before that, averaging only 13.6 in the previous two series (against New Zealand & South Africa).
  • Pakistan’s skipper Babar Azam is not in his prime form in red-ball cricket. Since his last Test century against Bangladesh in Rawalpindi, Azam has averaged 32 in his last seven Tests. He made 3 ducks in 6 innings in the 2017 Test series in West Indies.
  • Another trouble-causing factor for Pakistan could be the inexperience of their players in the Caribbean in red-ball cricket. Only 6 of the 21 players in Pakistan’s squad have played Test cricket in West Indies in the past.

Possible XI

  1. Abid Ali
  2. Imran Butt
  3. Azhar Ali
  4. Babar Azam (C)
  5. Fawad Alam
  6. Mohammad Rizwan
  7. Faheem Ashraf
  8. Nauman Ali
  9. Hasan Ali
  10. Shaheen Shah Afridi
  11. Mohammad Abbas

Final Words

This Test series will be an opportunity for the Green Shirts for a more comprehensive series victory in their tour to the Caribbean after the T20I series was spoiled by the rain. Meanwhile, the Windies, who could not win any home Test in the last WTC, will be planning to turn things around this time. Which team do you think will earn more points in the series?

COOL
0
LIKE
DISLIKE
0
LOL
0
OMG
0
LOVE
0
GEEKY
0
1 comment
Anonymous
11 Aug, 2021

Nice blog.