West Indies vs Pakistan 1st Test Preview: Pakistan start favourites in bowling friendly conditions
West Indies were recently decimated 2-0 at home by South Africa and the trio of Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Abbas is expected to bring a similar result for Pakistan.
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After the T20 disappointment, time for some action
It will be safe to say that the T20I series which preceded the Tests was a flop. The series between West Indies and Pakistan was meant to be played over five matches but one match was taken off as the tour was delayed after a positive test emerged during the ODI series between West Indies and Australia.
The opening match was then rained out. Pakistan won the 2nd T20I to go one up in the series. The third and the fourth T20 could not be completed due to rain and the series which promised so much ended up being a bummer.
There will be some disruption in the Test series as well because of high precipitation in Jamaica. However, given that it is a five-day Test match as opposed to a 4-hour T20I, it means that the teams will find windows where some competitive play is possible.
Chemar Holder and Brooks in squad, but unlikely to make the XI
West Indies have announced their squad for the two-match series and have picked pacer Chemar Holder and middle-order batsman Shamarah Brooks over Shannon Gabriel and Darren Bravo.
Gabriel, despite playing a part in the last series against South Africa is not fully fit yet and has been given time to recover from a hamstring injury. Darren Bravo has decided to rest after spending a lot of time in bio-bubbles.
Senior men's team chief selector Roger Harper said:
"Chemar Holder returns, having recovered from his injury. He will bolster the fast bowling department. Shamarh Brooks batted his way into the provisional squad by scoring an accomplished century. He will certainly add some depth to the squad's batting. Shannon Gabriel has been given time to rehab fully and build his conditioning, so he was not part of the preparations for the Test series against Pakistan, which included the Best v Best game.
"Darren Bravo has been part of the 'bubble' from the preparation camp leading into the Betway Test series against South Africa and has been given a break. I expect the team to be highly competitive in every department while playing with passion, purpose and determination. I look forward to the batsmen stepping up as they did in the series against Bangladesh and against Sri Lanka earlier this year in Antigua."
Pakistan are coming off a 2-0 series victory against Zimbabwe in which they won both the Test matches by an innings.
Abid Ali was the top run scorer for Pakistan with 275 runs including an unbeaten 215. Azhar Ali also made 162 runs with his best of 126. Fawad Alam was also among the runs and made 145 runs at 72.50.
With the ball, Hasan Ali was at his best and picked up 14 wickets at an average of 8.92 and an economy rate of 2.48 with the best of 5/27. Shaheen Shah Afridi also picked up a 5 wicket haul with his best of 5/52 and took 10 wickets.
Nauman Ali also picked up 8 wickets and it will be interesting to see whether Pakistan replace him with Yasir Ali if the leg spinner is fully fit or continue to reward current form.
Chase and Roach key for WI
West Indies last met South Africa in a two-match series in which they were decimated. The team lost the first match by 158 runs and the second one by an innings and 63 runs, mainly due to the heroics of Quinton de Kock and the South African pace bowlers.
Jermaine Blackwood was the team's top run scorer in the series but could manage only 88 runs at 22. Roston Chase followed him with 74 runs at 24.66. Kemar Roach as expected did most of the damage and took 9 wickets from three innings at an average of 17.8 with the best of 4/52. Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder also chipped in.
Pakistan start favourites in the two-match Test series.
Predicted playing XIs:
Pakistan - Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah/Nauman Ali, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi
West Indies - Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Nkrumah Bonner, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Alzarri Joseph
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