ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, CMC – Reigning World champions West Indies find themselves in the unfamiliar position of battling to avoid a whitewash when they clash with Pakistan in the final Twenty20 International of the three-match series here today.
Battered following two bruising defeats in the opening games in Dubai, West Indies will aim for a dramatic turnaround in order to extract some semblance of pride from what has otherwise been a humbling experience.
The side, which won an unprecedented second T20 World Cup last April in India is yet to display that swagger and captain Carlos Brathwaite said now was a good a time as any for his unit to make their presence felt.
“Every game we play we go out there to win. Psychologically, going into the longer format – the 50 overs – it would do us a hell of a lot of good to get a victory,” Brathwaite said here Monday.
“We need to go out there and do the things we know how to do, do them better than we did in the first two games and we’re more than confident that we can come out with a win.”
In both games so far, West Indies have suffered batting meltdowns. In the opening game last Friday, they were bundled out for 115 paving the way for Pakistan’s uncomplicated nine-wicket victory.
And in the second game the following day, the Caribbean side botched their run chase in pursuit of 161, to go down by 16 runs.
Brathwaite acknowledged West Indies needed to improve their batting, especially at the top of the order where problems had been rife.
“One glaring problem that I can see is the batting, especially the top order batting. We haven’t been making the most of the first six overs with only the two fielders out and then it became harder and harder [as the innings progressed],” he explained.
“In the very first game we had five wickets down … and then chasing 160 [in the second game] and being only 20-odd in the first six overs, it’s going to be a lot more difficult especially with such huge boundaries.
“So I think the top order batting and the mis-use of the first six overs was our downfall in the first two games.”
Brathwaite, in only his second series as captain after replacing the sacked two-time World Cup-winning skipper Darren Sammy, is also yet to fire.
He came to prominence following his heroics in the T20 World Cup final against England but with scores of nought and eight, he is yet to weigh in with any performance of note.
However, the Barbadian said he would not allow his personal performances to overshadow that of the team’s.
“For me as captain, the most important thing is team performance and then my personal performance comes next … it’s about West Indies cricket, it’s about West Indies cricket moving forward, it’s about West Indies fans being happy each and every time we step on the park,” he contended.
“If I as the leader can in someway help to get that over and help the fans to continue to enjoy T20 cricket I would think that I have done a good job. Up until now we haven’t so it’s up to me to motivate the guys going into tomorrow’s game and help the fans put a smile on their faces.”
After playing an unchanged team in the opening games with little change in the outcome, Brathwaite said selectors were contemplating using a few new faces for the final game set for the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
All-rounder Rovman Powell and fast bowler Kesrick Williams are two uncapped players in the squad who could come in while Chadwick Walton and Test and one-day captain, Jason Holder, are also yet to play.
“There may be changes. The selection panel hasn’t met as yet but there may be changes, more than likely with the view of letting one or two guys experience playing for the West Indies – we have a few persons in the squad who haven’t represented West Indies as yet,” he said.
“So will there be changes? Maybe. I can’t tell you who will be in, who will be out because I don’t know and the selection panel hasn’t met as yet.”
PAKISTAN – Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Saad Nasim.
WEST INDIES – Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Evin Lewis, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher , Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Jerome Taylor, Samuel Badree, Jason Holder, Rovman Powell, Kesrick Williams, Chadwick Walton.