By Royston Alkins
West Indies skipper, Jason Holder, moments after landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport yesterday to kick start the one-day leg of Pakistan’s tour of the Caribbean, expressed optimism of his side’s chances even after a poor run of recent form.
“We’re in a situation where we need to get out and start the series well. It’s a very short series and the quicker we start well, it will be better for the team,” Holder, responding to questions surrounding the expectations of the side, said.
He added optimistically: “We have what it takes to beat Pakistan, we just need to play good cricket.”
“Good cricket,” however, seems to eluding the side of late after losing to Pakistan 1-3 in the just concluded T20 series.
They also lost to the England team which toured the Caribbean earlier this year 0-3 in their most recent one-day series. Home fans, especially those who consider themselves to die-hard Windies supporters, will be hoping for a change in fortunes during the three matches at Providence on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday before the teams wing out to commence the Test series.
In the absence of big names like Chris Gayle, Dwayne and Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Sunil Narine, Holder will be hoping for top performances from the likes of Evin Lewis, Jonathan Carter, Kieran Powell and himself to pull the Caribbean side over the line.
The inconsistency of both sides, however, is what will make for an interesting series. Pakistan boasts a number of quality batsmen who, on a good day, can create much worry for Holder and his men. Babar Azam, who scored three consecutive centuries against the Caribbean side when they toured the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year, will fancy his chances in Guyana. On the bowling side, Windies will have to find answers to handle leg-spinner Shadab Khan’s `Mystery’ or else it could be a pretty one-sided affair.
This series is very important for the Windies who are currently ranked ninth according to the International Cricket Council (ICC). The home side sits on 84 rating points while Pakistan, who is just above the West Indies at eighth, have 89 points.
Pakistan fielding coach, Steve Rixon, who spoke on behalf of the visitors mentioned the team’s mindset heading into Friday’s opener while also noting the importance of this series and the impact it has on their ICC Champion’s Trophy campaign.
“It’s been a major concern from the start since the group got together, it’s been a major focus on the one-day game. It’s something we haven’t played particularly well over the years but we are looking forward to the improvement there and obviously leading into the Champion’s Trophy, so very much the focus is on one-day cricket at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Digicel Communications Manager, Vidya Sanichara, who was at the airport to welcome both teams, indicated that fans can expect a lot of giveaways.
“We’ll always support West Indies cricket because we know cricket and the Caribbean are something that goes hand-in-hand and Digicel has always been behind West Indies Cricket and never regretted it so we’ll continue throwing our weight behind West Indies.”
On what fans can expect, she said: “Digicel is going to be having several competitions going on to have persons involved in the game, with the game. Similar to the CPL where you had a fan of the match, we’re going to have the same thing this time around where the most outrageously dressed West Indies fan will get a chance at the end of the match to win something. We are also going to be giving away tickets on our Facebook page,” she explained.