Pakistan come into this series against West Indies having lost their previous six Test matches - their longest losing streak in their Test history.Watch the first Test of the series live at cricingif.com
After a three-month hiatus from the five-day format and wins in the preceding T20 and ODI series this Test series presents Pakistan with an excellent opportunity to turn around their poor Test form and ensure their retiring legends Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan are given fitting send offs. Misbah, their most successful captain, has teamed up well over the years with Younis, their highest-scoring test batsman, who is now just 23 short of 10,000 Test runs. With 3,156 runs between them, the two form the most prolific batting pair in Pakistan’s history.
Although Pakistan are in poor form West Indies are one of the weakest Test teams in the world, placed eighth out of ten in the Test rankings and having not won a series against a team other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since July 2012. The pitches in the Caribbean in recent years have been slow and low which has produced cricket that is likely to suit Pakistan’s patient style of play under Misbah-ul-Haq—the economy rate of seam bowlers since January 2010 is lower in the Caribbean than on any other continent. Pakistan, who were top of the Test rankings only seven months ago before spiralling into their losing streak, will certainly start the series as favourites.
However, this series is not a foregone conclusion. West Indies started Pakistan’s run of six consecutive defeats when they beat them in the third Test of their series in the UAE last October and will recognize that Pakistan are a team in the middle of a lean run and possibly distracted by two major retirements.
Although the pitches are likely to suit Pakistan’s strategy, they will also provide an opportunity to the West Indies batsmen to frustrate a Pakistani bowling attack that recorded its second highest combined series bowling average in their most recent series v Australia.
On such pitches, where runs are earned through patience and concentration, the series may come down to how each team’s respective bowling attacks fare on pitches that demand skill to dislodge those at the crease.
From Pakistan’s perspective, therefore, this is an important series for Mohammad Amir. Since his comeback to Test cricket in Pakistan’s first Test against England at Lord’s last July Amir averages more runs per wicket in Test cricket (41.60) than any of Pakistan’s other four seamers: Wahab Riaz (33.81), Sohail Khan (33.84), Imran Khan (35.25) and Rahat Ali (35.25). This series, in which the old guard of Misbah and Younis finally bow out, offers Amir the chance to take the lead in Pakistan’s new era.
Infographic: Pakistan vs West Indies