A year ago, both Pakistan and West Indies were fighting it out for one spot in the Champions Trophy to held in England. While Pakistan qualified for the tournament and won it spectacularly, West Indies had to be content playing a limited-overs series against Afghanistan at home.
Since then, Pakistan have undergone a drastic transformation with their inspiring captain Sarfraz Ahmed leading a group of rejuvenated, disciplined players. Not only did Pakistan win the Champions Trophy but they also got over the Indian jinx by beating them in the finals.
Since then Pakistan have gone on to register nine consecutive wins and except two games, in the others, they scored less than 250, a sign of how their bowling has been critical to their rise in the fifty over format. They whitewashed the Lankans in a series that showed their impeccable ability to bowl consistently.
West Indies, on the contrary, have a Test win against England to boast of aside from the return of a few T20 stars in the limited-overs format. But from a year back when they were nearly equal to Pakistan, the latter has come a long, long way. Perhaps the Windies have a few lessons to learn from the rise of Pakistan.
Committed, disciplined fast bowlers
Fast bowlers have been the key to Pakistan’s rise. They have enjoyed the services of Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Rumman Raees, Usman Khan, Sohail Khan and a few others. Each of them have showcased their talent in different games and Pakistan have benefitted big time.
In the series against Lanka, Pakistan’s bowlers did not send down a single no-ball across all five matches whereas West Indies were guilty of overstepping quite a few times in England (Shannon Gabriel alone overstepped a stunning 22 times in a warm-up game in England).
It is this lack of discipline that has affected the Windies. They haven’t been able to string together consistent performances with the ball inspite of boasting of a number of talented bowlers. Their quicker men, Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph all bring different skill sets to the table but a collaborative effort has gone missing.
Reluctance to try new players pegging Windies back
West Indies do not have a lot of runaway talents like Pakistan but they sure have a few in the domestic circuit. Grooming them and getting them ready for International cricket can only come with exposure to something more than mere T20 games. The administration has failed to do this while Pakistan have had truckloads of fresh talent coming in.
The bowling attack itself has undergone a massive transformation while the batting line-up does have a few new names to boast of. West Indies are down and out in this department and need to take inspiration from Pakistan in blooding fresh talent.
Bank on your strengths
One factor that has worked wonders for Pakistan is their realisation that their strength lies in bowling. They have stopped focussing on their shortcomings with the bat and the bowlers have stepped up to deliver. In modern day cricket where 300+ scores in ODIs are the norm, Pakistan have managed to churn out nine victories in a row by posting just two scores in excess of 250.
This has been possible only due to their emphasis on bowling, which is their obvious strength. West Indies aren’t short of strengths either. They have a plethora of T20 hitters and should probably focus on teaching them the value of staying at the crease for more time. Someone like Evin Lewis seems to have learnt that. The others should follow suit and put pressure on the opposition in their own unique way but also keeping in mind that the game lasts for more than 20 overs.
The inspiring captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmed and the use of a leg-spinner
Sarfraz Ahmed has made all the difference to this Pakistan team. He has been a vocal, pretty confident captain. He has lead with class and panache and the results are there for everyone to see. In Jason Holder, West Indies have a decent skipper too but while Holder leads from the front, he lacks the tactical nous to consistently make good decisions in the field of play.
This is where some of the senior Windies players like Chris Gayle, Kemar Roach or Marlon Samuels should step in. A collaborative thinking process is evidently missing on the field going by some of Holder’s horror choices in England. Sarfraz, on the other hand, has been quite an inspiration for his young troop and is slowly but steadily bringing up a World beating team.
West Indies aren’t in dire straits anymore with humungous loss of talent. They do have quite a few positives to look up to but need to utilise them well like Pakistan has done in the recent past. Climbing up to the standards of their predecessors might take time, but the first step is as important as the final one and it is time West Indies took that initial step.