Cricket

Published on April 4th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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How big is beating the World Champions in their own den?

Shoaib Malik is at the crease, Jason Holder has the ball in hand, he bowls a low full toss, which is carved for a boundary over point. Pakistan dugout erupts in joy and why shouldn’t they? After all, they have beaten West Indies in their own den. With this win, Pakistan scripted and seal the four-match series by 3-1. There is hardly anything in cricket, which is as prideful as beating a team in their own den. And, Pakistan have certainly achieved that for the the second time in their cricketing chronicle against West Indies.

No, one just can’t deny the fact that the current West Indies side are tailor-made for Twenty20 (T20) cricket. They are a powerhouse; with some big-hitters and guileful bowlers, West Indies is a force to reckon. And beating them in their own den is just not ordinary, but a herculean task. Snatching the World T20 title on a couple of occasions is no joke and West Indies are a testament to it. Though they may not inspire enough confidence when it comes to longer formats and their fortunes have been highly contrasting in the recent times. But there is a huge turnaround and the morale of the team changes drastically when it comes to T20 cricket. They can turn the game at any point and Carlos Brathwaite’s last over heroics in the World T20 final is a testament to that.

Pakistan hogged all the headlines after winning the fourth game. A bunch of raw talent and experienced campaigners turned out to be the right combination for Pakistan. To add to their good fortunes, they have done it earlier in 2013, where they whitewashed the Caribbean side in a two-match series.

Earlier, Pakistan registered a lean sweep in September 2016 in the UAE. And, when they did so there were speculations of them being a home bully. But all the thoughts have been put to rest and Pakistan have silent their harshest critics with a bang. Though West Indies were lacking the services of many high-profile names and who knows what the results could be if they had all their players available? But they had enough firepower in their artillery to gun down on any side.

Pakistan not just won but dominated most of the games in this series. After a convincing victory at Bridgetown, where they won by six wickets, Pakistan had a narrow escape in the second game. They returned from the dead and won the second encounter by a whisker of three runs to take a 2-0 lead and set the alarm ringing in the West Indies dug out.

West Indies responded to the SOS call and came out hard int he third game, where Evin Lewis’ awe-inspiring knock of 91, put West Indies back into the competition. The stage was set and the fourth game was a virtual final for both the teams in different perspectives. A win for West Indies would have squared the series while Pakistan needed one to win it. The pressure was on both the teams but West Indies had the momentum going after a resounding win.

Many expected West Indies to bounce back and fight for pride but it turned out to be a cakewalk for the visiting Pakistani soil. Their batting once again floundered and Pakistani bowlers tightened the noose around West Indies as they were restricted to 124. Kamran Akmal and Babar continued their good form and got the job done, as Pakistan thumped the two-time World champions on their land. Pakistan’s consecutive series win against West Indies at home and away is not any flash in the pan.

It’s a huge achievement, which will only do good to Pakistan cricket. Their players acted no time in adapting to the different conditions and gelled well as a unit. Pakistan also have a lot of positives to take from this series, with Shadab Khan’s emergence being the biggest one. He has been one of the most promising finds and justified his selection. Shadab was given an opportunity riding on his run in the Pakistan Super League and the talented leggie replicated his magic at the grandest stage as well. He is definitely the player to watch out for in future. Imad Wasim did a reasonable job while Babar Azam was outstanding with the bat.

Interestingly, West Indies have played just two T20I series since their domination over the world in 2016 and have lost both of them to Pakistan. Is this the start of a downfall for West Indies in T20 format? Well, only time will unveil the mystery. As of now, Pakistan are oozing with confidence and will be the team to beat henceforth. They have the ingredients but often fizzle out due to other reasons. Sarfraz Ahmed has been instrumental as the skipper and now Pakistan have simultaneously raised the expectations for the upcoming One-Day International (ODI) series, which commences from April 7.

Can West Indies avenge them in the 50-over format or will Pakistan replicate their domination here as well? Well, one can expect the burgeoning Pakistan side to create another upset in the Caribbean island.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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