The first international bilateral series in Karachi after nine long years was surrounded by a cloud of apprehension. After the yearning efforts of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), international cricket finally returned to Pakistan soil. But, with some unwilling compromises.
With PSL being a great success, West Indian cricketers have become household names - for instance, Daren Sammy, who captained his side Peshawar Zalmi to the title. He has also been vocal on Twitter about supporting the PCB in their goals as well. However, when it came to sending the WI squad to Pakistan for the bilateral series, a 'depleted' West Indian team arrived at Karachi on Saturday.
The visiting squad stayed away from the unveiling of the trophy and pre-match conferences due to security concerns. Stalwarts like Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, regular captain Craig Braithwaite, Jason Holder and others opted out of the tour due to security concerns. Despite agreeing to play in Pakistan, this seems like a half-hearted effort by the West Indies cricket board.
However, PCB's Chairman Najam Sethi said, “Look these are baby steps and we have to be patient. But I feel disappointed and sorry for those running down the West Indies team.” He also mentioned that the day would come when 'all the players would have no issues' in touring Pakistan.
Critics pointed out that the security checks, like during the PSL, are fool-proof. The foreign players were given head-of-the-state security and the fans' protection was ensured as well. At least five security checkpoints were installed for the fans to go through before entering the stadium. However, during the game, 18,000 spectators were present in the stadium that could hold up to 33,000, in the biggest city of Pakistan.
When the game commenced on the 1st of April, the 'depleted' West Indian side failed miserably as the hosts thrashed them by 143 runs. This is the second biggest win in the history of T20Is, after Sri Lanka's 172-run win over Kenya in Johannesburg in 2007. The captain for the tour, Jason Mohammad said, "It was a tough day. We did well with the ball till the last two overs. It was a good wicket, but our shot execution wasn't good," while he fell for nought.
Even after the ticket prices were slashed to half their rates and few VIP tickets were sold for peanuts, the turn-out and the below-par performance by West Indies clearly marked the failure of this series. The reasons ranging from the hot climate to the star players' absence could be pulling the show down.
However, the Windies team, with 4 uncapped players in their ranks, would look to turn around their fate in the remaining two games.