Iqbal backs Pakistan to break Caribbean Test drought

KARACHI, Pakistan, CMC — Spin legend Iqbal Qasim has backed Pakistan to beat West Indies in their three-Test series starting later this month, and end their long drought of having never won a series in the Caribbean.

The former convenor of selectors said several players expected to be picked in the Test squad had much to prove and argued this would augur well for the Misbah-ul-Haq led unit.

“I always say this whenever a new series is starting both teams have even opportunities to emerge victorious,” said the former left-arm spinner who claimed 171 wickets from 50 Tests and 999 first class scalps.

“In Pakistan’s case, this is yet another moment to make history in the West Indies and the team Misbah would lead has the potential to beat the hosts this time.”

Iqbal Qasim

He continued: “Generally, there is unpredictability about Pakistan batting, particularly in the modern era. But having said this, Pakistan have seldom performed as batting unit consistently.

“Even when we had a world-class batting during the days of Zaheer Abbas, Majid Khan and Javed Miandad, it was never consistently found performing. But in the current scenario, I think you at least have the chance to prove your worthiness as a reliable batting unit.

“But coming to the upcoming matches, there is a lot at stake for the likes of Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Misbah. Younis is in a carefree position to express himself with the magical figure of 10,000, only a handful  runs away for this great stalwart of Pakistan cricket.”

Pakistan have historically struggled on Caribbean tours and have managed just five wins in 23 Tests, without a single series win. Their last two tours of West Indies — in 2005 and 2011 — finished in 1-1 draws.

However, Pakistan are coming off a strong 2-1 series victory over West Indies in the United Arab Emirates last October, a tour that saw a monumental unbeaten triple hundred from opener Azhar Ali in the day/night opening Test in Dubai.

Veteran Younis also managed his 33rd Test hundred during that series and now lies 23 runs short of 10 000 runs in the longest format, while Asad Shafiq also got among the runs.

Iqbal pointed out that Azhar and Shafiq especially would be motivated to extend their form against West Indies.

“Azhar has a point to prove after being relieved of ODI captaincy. He would be more focussed than ever before and continue from where he left off during the last series against the West Indies since he is a fighter,” noted Iqbal.

“The same applies to Asad because he is another batsman who is raring to go after being omitted from the ODI format. As for Misbah there is a personal incentive for him to sign off in grand style.

“He has regained form that deserted in New Zealand and Australia with two centuries [in domestic cricket] for Faisalabad recently.” Pakistan face West Indies in the opening Test at Sabina Park from April 22-26, in the second second Test at Kensington Oval from April 30 to May 4 before travelling to Windsor Park in Dominica for the final game from May 10-14.

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