MULTAN: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam Sunday won the toss and opted to bat first against West Indies in the final ODI of the three-match series at the Multan Cricket Stadium.
The three-match series is part of the Super League cycle, and both teams are eager to earn the necessary points to qualify for the 2023 World Cup.
Speaking after the toss, Pakistan captain Babar Azam said that Pakistan made two changes to the squad for the final ODI of the series. He said that Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf have been given rest, while Hasan Ali and Shahnawaz Dhani have been included in the team.
It is pertinent to mention here that Shahnawaz Dhani will make his debut against West Indies today.
Pakistan has never hosted a bilateral series in the hottest month (June) of the year. Multan’s weather could pose a serious challenge for both sides, even though Pakistan held the 2008 Asia Cup in Lahore and Karachi during the same month.
Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imamul Haq, , Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper/batter), Muhammad Haris, Khushdil Shah, Muhammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Muhammad Wasim, Shahnawaz Dhani.
Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Sharmarh Brooks, Nicholas Pooran (C), Rovman Powell, Keacy Carty, Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd, Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh Jr, Jayden Seales
Pakistan eye ODI whitewash
The Green Shirts are eyeing a whitewash of West Indies in the three-match ICC Cricket World Cup Super League series by another all-round display at the Multan Stadium.
A convincing 120 runs win in the series decider on Friday has made Pakistan an overwhelming favourite to make it three in a row. On the other hand, West Indies batting would have to cope with Pakistan spin in order to achieve a consolation win, The News reported.
Pakistan have already jumped to No 4 on the ICC League table which is the position to qualify directly for the next year’s ODI World Cup to be staged in India.
From 14 outings, Pakistan have so far gathered 80 points. The Green Shirts are now looking to make the points to reach 90 on Sunday under the blistering Multan heat that has already made things tough for the opposing sides.
Chasing an achievable score of 276 on Friday, the tourists never looked at ease against the spin duo of Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan. After spending 50 overs on the field amid 40 degrees Celsius and above, West Indies batsmen were seen exhausted and dehydrated. To make things worse, Nawaz and Shadab both started spinning the ball appreciably to restrict the tourists to 155.
“I thought we were 20 runs short. But once our bowlers started creating trouble for the WI batsmen, I knew well that [the] target was too stiff for them. At the end, even 276 runs looked too daunting for the hapless tourists,” Babar Azam said in his post-match conference Friday.
He hoped to enter the third ODI with the same vein. “We will now go all out for a clean sweep on Sunday. A repeat of performance on Sunday would help us achieve that,” Babar said.
The toss will again be crucial on Sunday as the team winning it will most likely bat first. The key bowlers of the team batting first would stay fresh and spinners will be having more purchase from the wicket later in the evening.
“We bowled well Friday, but could not hang on to chase a reachable target. We won the first half and were very much in the game till the time we started losing wickets regularly,” ace West Indies spinner Akeal Hosein, said following a one-sided second ODI.