Having thrashed West Indies 2-0 in the first two matches of the one-day series, Pakistan will be keen to secure a whitewash by winning the third match at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The hosts have been all over the Windies in the series, beginning with the pasting they handed Carlos Brathwaite's men in the T20s, and following up with impressive wins in the first two matches. With the series already in their bag, there will be no pressure on Pakistan going into the final match of Wednesday. West Indies, on the other hand, will be desperate for victory, so that they can go into the Tests with some degree of confidence.
Pakistan are in red hot form, and go into the third match with two one-sided victories. Babar Azam has been the man of the tournament for Pakistan so far. After scoring a hundred in the opening match, he followed it up with another brilliant knock in the second one-dayer as well, scoring a sparkling 123 from 126 balls. Pakistan would be elated with the form Azam has displayed in the series. The number three is a critical position, and Azam’s success is a definite step in the right direction. A hat-trick of tons would be a rare achievement indeed.
There were major gains for Pakistan in the previous match with the bat. Apart from Azam, Shoaib Malik made a brilliant 90. In fact, it was Malik who really set things in order for Pakistan after their poor start. His 84-ball knock gave Pakistan the desired momentum. Sarfraz Ahmed also continued his impressive form in international cricket. He smashed an unbeaten 60 from 47 balls to help Pakistan cross the 330-mark. In the bowling, Wahab Riaz was the most impressive performer with 2 for 48. Imad Wasim has not quite been as potent in the ODIs, but he will be expected to do well.
For West Indies, nothing has changed since the T20 series. Their batsmen have continued to struggle even as the format has changed. Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels got fifties in the last match. So, that was definitely an improvement. But, neither of them could carry on. Considering the kind of experience they possess, the timing of their respective dismissals were hugely disappointing. Johnson Charles has really had a torrid time, and he would be keen to change the same. Kraigg Brathwaite and Denesh Ramdin got into the 30s, but again more was expected of them.
West Indies’ bowling and fielding has been equally disappointing. Jason Holder and debutant Alzarri Joseph picked up a couple of wickets. However, both were reasonably expensive. Carlos Brathwaite has proved to be a massive let down with both bat and ball. He conceded 60 in eight overs in the last match. Sunil Narine was economical, but wickets is what West Indies expect of him, which they haven’t been getting. Also, he hasn’t got the desired support from Sulieman Benn. West Indies have never been great fielders, and nothing has changed in this series as well.
--By A Cricket Analyst