After being thrashed in 3-0 in the T20 series, West Indies would have been eager to begin their one-day journey on a better note. But, it was a sense of déjà vu all over again as their batsmen struggled to rise to the occasion. The West Indies batters just haven't found their groove, as a result they have struggled on the tour miserably. And so, as they head into the second ODI on Sunday, they would be desperate for their batsmen to fire. If their batters fail to come up with the goods in the second match as well, the Windies might as well big goodbye to their hopes of winning the one-day series. For that, they need to find a way to keep the spinners at bay.
The big problem for West Indies throughout the tour has been the fact that their experienced men have failed to deliver. And, as they head into the second match, nothing has changed. The absence of Chris Gayle at the top is proving to be a major loss for them. Considering the paucity of options, West Indies had to open with Kraigg Braithwaite at the top of the order. But, he failed on debut, and will be keen to make an impact in the second match. Marlon Samuels top scored, but his 46 was not a good enough effort. It has been mentioned time and time again that being one of the seniormost players in the team, he needs to take additional responsibility. But, that hasn't proved to be the case.
A combined batting effort is what West Indies should target in Sunday's match. And, this starts right from the top. Opener Johnson Charles has played some impressive knocks in the recent past, but on this tour, he hasn't found form. The same has been the case with Kieron Pollard. Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin, who were not part of the T20 squad, also need to stand up. West Indies have not done too nicely in the bowling department as well. There were a lot of expectations from Sunil Narine, but he has clearly fallen short of those. Among others, skipper Jason Holder and Carlos Braithwaite also haven't performed to expectations. The bowlers need to pull up their socks.
Pakistan, in contrast, have done well with both bat and ball, and will look to continue in the same vein. In the opening ODI, Babar Azam took his form a step further by going on to register a fluent ton. He must be keen to build on the great form he finds himself in. Sharjeel Khan came up with a fighting half-century in the opening one-day encounter. And, that will please Pakistan for he has had a torrid time with the bat in recent times. Although skipper Azhar Ali fell early in the first game, he has been among the runs of late. In Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan have strong middle-order batsmen.
Pakistan's bowlers too have been much more impressive in comparison to West Indies. The spinners particularly have kept the visitors on their toes. Mohammad Nawaz did not have a great T20 series, but he was the best performer in the first ODI with four wickets. Imad Wasim was the best bowler across the two teams in the T20s. He will be keen to continue in the same vein. Hasan Ali was also impressive with figures of 3 for 14. The form of Mohammad Amir would worry them though. He hasn't looked in great shape. An in-form Amir would be doubly dangerous for West Indies.
--By A Cricket Analyst