3 ODI’s, 3 Tests and 4 T20s. The action resumes in the Caribbean on March 26. As England left the shores of sun-drenched Caribbean a couple of weeks before, theirs were full of hurrahs.
But for the West Indies, there were only lost chances and heartaches resulting from an abysmal display of cricket that once again pushed them and their chances of rediscovery in international cricket toward the bottom of the ocean.
Now, Pakistan visit the Caribbean, fundamentally resuming cricket against the same side with which they had locked horns toward the end of 2016.
Not in Pakistan. Not in the Caribbean. But in the UAE. It was a different turf then. And it was a matter of who would draw first blood. Pakistan did and continued to, until their rivals were left in misery- cold and bloodless. And even now, it will be about who makes the first giant kill, in the 1st of the 4 T20s, beginning at Barbados.
Pakistan would do well to remember the World T20, 2014, where the Windies ran over them. It was a Bravo and Sammy show then. Luckily, neither are around this time.
So, the new series poses different perspectives for both sides. Pakistan, apparently, recovering from fresh fixing allegations at the PSL, have a new captain. Sarfraz Ahmed. The bloke can do more than just whack a cricket ball and rotate the strike when needed. Moreover, he is an agile wicketkeeper who leads by example. He did that instantly in the 3 T20s and as many ODIs last year against the Windies. Guys like Babar Azam, Mohammad Amir rejoiced playing under him. It almost seemed that the man talked Wahab into bowling a yard quicker.
Always, the smiling man. Always, so congenial.
His side looked the part of a rainbow at UAE, waiting to bathe under the aura of its collective excellence.
Yasir Shah, too didn’t lag behind, producing a magical spell under the lights at Dubai. That wicket of Bravo, checkered by the superbly agile return catch marked Windies’ downhill run and pronounced Pakistan as the victors. There were signs of Alduous Huxley’s famous novella, Brave New World, bearing Pakistan’s name on it. Though, for losing 8 out of their 9 games, it was familiar misery that came to cling the West Indies.
Meanwhile, familiar sights of mediocrity confound the hosts for this series. The West Indies, recently against England, looked the part of a college-grade cricket team that were forced to confront a superior looking side, that had apparently knocked them out of the surface pretty hard. A 3-0 whitewash in the Caribbean, in front of home fans with distraught looking Bajan crowd witnessing zero fight from their boys wasn’t the kind of news heading that would’ve motivated their ODI captain, Jason Holder. Not that much has changed. Or would, lest speculations are toppled completely.
But just who could do that? Remember the name ‘Carlos Brathwaite’?
Who at this time, happens to be the T20 sides’ leader? Here’s a submission, a painful one, particularly if you’re a fan of Windies’ big-hitting ways in T20s that have saved their cricket’s collective decline across formats.
A week before, heading into the training camp in the West Indies, Brathwaite announced that already, his 2016 blitzkrieg versus England at Eden Gardens feels like another time; more like a warped reality of contemporary waning fortunes.
And that he might not be able to repeat those heroics. As fans, you are dazed and confused. Which contemporary cricketer, despite having the muscles and abilities, would admit that he’s past his best in such a concerted way as Brathwaite did then? Could it be that even the return of guys like- Samuels, Narine, Badree, Pollard- isn’t enough to inspire confidence in the present side?
Or could it be that the levels of absurdity the Windies have stopped to, so abhorrently- lacking fight, imagination and, dare one say, even will- are so colossal that a future resuscitation seems unimaginable? There will be more questions haunting Carlos Brathwaite’s mind than firm belief, something that Sarfraz’ men, despite languishing almost at the end, just above the waning, tired Windies- would be hoping to get.
If the Windies stake some glory in the 4 T20s, 2 of which that were added just days before, apparently in the guise of giving both teams solid practice for the ‘all to play for’ ODI series- then a bigger test will await them in the ODIs. Here’s why- since ICC World Cup 2015- West Indies have been able to bat out their full quota of 50-overs on only 6 occasions.
Could it get any worse? Who knows what side Pakistan would be against? One that collapses earlier and easier than one can think? Or one that can work miracles, the one you hear about in fairy tales?
Fast. Lite. Innovative. Shareable. Download our HW Cricket app!