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West Indies vs Pakistan: 2nd ODI - Pakistan Preview

Shahid Afridi rescued Pakistan with a record-breaking one-man show in the 1st ODI

After a thorough and piecemeal demolition of the hosts in the first one-day international held at Guyana, the Pakistan team will go into the second fixture, to be held at the same ground, high on momentum. But it would be naive to read too much into the victory that can at best be described as a one-man show.

The Pakistani batting performance laid bare gaping holes in the top order, and, if not for the Afridi-Misbah collaboration, the entire team was on the verge of capitulation to a canny Holder. The duo, however, resurrected the innings with entirely antithetical mannerisms. The skipper crafted a workman like knock that held the innings together, while giving Afridi the freedom to play just as he always has: on his own terms, consistently finding the sweet spot when others struggled to put bat to ball.

Their bowling, much like their batting, was dominated by Afridi, who whipped up a career best 7-for, which incidentally is also the second best ever in one-day internationals. Other bowlers also rose to the occasion, particularly Mohammed Irfan, and blurred the blemishes of the preceding batting collapse.

Coming into the second match, the visitors have to ensure that the batters rise to the occasion, since the mercurial Afridi is not really dependable as regards his batting. It is, no doubt, his whirlwind innings that ensured his team put up a good total, but based on past experiences, it was a one-off incident, and an encore seems unlikely.

The top order found it difficult on a slow, seaming track, and it would not harm to see the new ball off.

Bowling has always been their bulwark that has often kept their batting aloof, as was evident in the first ODI. All in all, it is a matter of how the visitors fare while wielding the willow that will, in all probability, decide the course of the match.

Key Players

Shahid Afridi

His bowling prowess is the raison d’être in this team, and a singular bowling display in the first match earned him rich accolades. Add to that his batting performance in the first match. He is no doubt the Pakistani trump card.

Mohammad Irfan

The gangling fast bowler was a treat to watch in his opening spell, and normally troubles batsmen irrespective of the nature of the wicket owing to the extra pace and bounce he generates because of his height and build. It was his fiery opening spell that laid the foundation for a dramatic West-Indian batting collapse.

Misbah-ul-Haq

He held the innings together, and with a rampaging Afridi, managed to take the team close to a respectable total. But although his tenacious heroics in the first match, which included only one hit to the fence, proved to be vital, he knows how to up the ante when need be, especially because of the natural swing of his bat that follows a high back-lift.

Saeed Ajmal

The No.2 bowler in the world went wicket-less, just as the No.1 bowler did who featured from the opposite side. Ajmal is a perennial threat on any surface, and will probably be itching to be back amongst wickets in the second fixture. He is by far the greatest threat, and at the same time difficult to negotiate.

Strategy

Win the toss, bowl first. It is expected to remain bowler friendly, and the Pakistani bowlers will do well to make use of the conditions first. The Pakistanis themselves had a harrowing experience batting first two days ago, and were all but done until Afridi arrived.

The Indians have, of late, put a great model up for display to survive on slow tracks, that of trying and seeing the new ball off initially and try and explode later in the innings. The team that is able to do this better is likely to emerge superior.

Playing conditions

Same pitch. Similar conditions expected, which, to quote Misbah, were very challenging, and it was one of the most difficult pitches he has ever played on. Expect the batters to be on their toes from the word go.

Probable XI

Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammed Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq (C), Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Asad Ali, Mohammed Irfan.

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