Optimistic Pakistan look to extend Windies' misery
by AFP

Ground:Kensington Oval, Bridgetown
Scorecard:West Indies v Pakistan
Event:Pakistan in West Indies 2004/05

DateLine: 25th May 2005


Pakistan enter the first of their two Tests against West Indies with high hopes of winning a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time.


The reason for Pakistan's optimism stems from the undeniable fact that an international home season that started with much promise for West Indies, in the form of a gutsy performance from an under-strength side against South Africa, has become engulfed in the gloom of defeat and despair.


It has culminated in Pakistan completing a clean sweep in the preceding three-match One-day International series that has given them a huge psychological advantage going into the Test series.


Pakistan however, will be weakened for the first Test because regular captain and long-standing batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, and promising all-rounder Shoaib Malik will be out of consideration for their line-up.


Inzamam misses the Test following an ICC-imposed one-Test ban for excessive appealing and showing dissent during his last Test against India in Bangalore a few weeks ago, and the Pakistan Cricket Board has disciplined Shoaib for throwing a domestic match in Lahore just prior to his arrival in the Caribbean.


Younis Khan, who is making his second tour of the Caribbean, is looking forward to leading the Pakistanis in Inzamam's absence.


"It is a coincidence that I also led the team in the last ODI prior to the Test match which has given me a little bit of confidence as a captain," he said before Thursday's Test.


"My aim is to remain friendly with all members of the team, and bring the best out of the them in the Test match. I will not hesitate to take advice from any one in the middle."


Pakistan, under Moin Khan, came close to clinching their first Test series in the Caribbean on their previous tour five years ago, but narrowly failed in their bid.


"We have beaten West Indies 3-0 in the ODI series and it has given us a lot of confidence and psychological advantage over the home team," said Younis.


"The team is now developing into a winning combination and the boys are keen and eager to record Pakistan's first-ever series win in the West Indies, since the 3-0 whitewash has greatly boosted their confidence.


"We will do our best in the middle, but remain ready for all kinds of upsets because cricket is a game of fluctuating fortunes."


West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul still believes his side can put the disappointments behind them, and be competitive in the Test series.


"The guys are mentally tough," he said.


"We have to take the positives out of the last couple of games.


"We have to try and focus on what is ahead and not the past. We have to focus on the two Test matches because this is cricket and anything can happen."


Chanderpaul added that he was banking on the experience of his players to pull them through the two Tests, despite a long season, and the string of defeats.


"Hopefully, we can get it right, and get our minds back on Test cricket, and we can go out, and do the job," he said.


"It just boils down to if you can apply yourself. There are simple basic things that we need to do, and do it better than the opposition.


"We are going into Test cricket now. We need to apply ourselves, and stay out there and bat as long as we can."


Kensington Oval, hosting its final international fixture before undergoing major renovations to host matches in the 2007 ICC World Cup in the Caribbean, has not been a happy hunting ground for West Indies in recent times.


The home team has lost its last four Tests there, including the third match of the recent four-Test series against South Africa a month ago.


West Indies (from): Shivnarine Chanderpaul (capt), Courtney Browne, Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Corey Collymore, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Reon King, Brian Lara, Daren Powell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.


Pakistan (from): Younis Khan (capt), Abdul Razzaq, Arshad Khan, Asim Kamal, Bazid Khan, Danish Kaneria, Iftikhar Anjum, Kamran Akmal, Naved-ul-Hasan, Salman Butt, Shabbir Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Shahid Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana.


Umpires: David Shepherd, Darrell Hair. TV replays: Basil Morgan. Reserve: Vincent Bullen. Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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