West Indies struggles worsened by crowded schedule
Pakistan's players celebrate after the dismissal of West Indies' Romario Shepherd (L) during the second one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Pakistan and West Indies at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan on June 10, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Such was the potential for a ‘banana peel’ experience that the West Indies team management, players, and their fans gave a metaphorical sigh of relief after their 3-0 triumph in their first-ever One-Day International series against The Netherlands a week ago.

West Indies Captain Mr Nicholas Pooran and his men weren’t always totally convincing but they got the job done.

It was likely to be a different story against powerful, higher-ranked Pakistan in their home conditions and so it proved.

The Caribbean visitors are now down 0-2, after Friday’s heavy defeat with just a game remaining of their three-match series. Cricket watchers will recall that the opening game on Wednesday was a closely fought, tense affair which went down to the final over with the home side clinching victory.

Having to deal with starkly contrasting climatic conditions with little or no time to adjust wouldn’t have helped the West Indies.

From cool-to-cold temperatures in Europe which dipped as low as 10 degrees Celsius a week ago, the West Indies have had to cope with average day-time temperatures of more than 40 degrees in Multan, located in the Punjab region of central Pakistan.

There was a time when a reasonable adjustment period would’ve been normal practice for an international cricket series such as this. Nor, in times past, would Pakistan be hosting international cricket in mid-year, when temperatures are at their highest.

Those days are long gone because of the increasingly crowded nature of contemporary international cricket.

A challenge for the tour selectors will be the make-up of the team for Sunday’s final game, since a few players, including fast bowlers Messrs Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales, and Anderson Phillip are in line to play in the first five-day Test match against Bangladesh in Antigua starting Thursday.

Given the extreme heat in Multan, the selectors, with a view to more strenuous, red-ball cricket in a few days’ time — and the real probability of jet lag after travelling half-way around the globe to get back to the Caribbean — may want to rest Messrs Joseph, Phillip and Seales tomorrow.

Others in Pakistan who are also part of the red-ball squad to face Bangladesh are the specialist batsman Mr Nkrumah Bonner and all-rounder Mr Kyle Mayers.

Concerns about work load no doubt influenced the Desmond Haynes-led selectors to draft fast bowling all-rounder Mr Keemo Paul as a late addition to the white-ball squad in Pakistan.

We note that former West Indies captain and pivotal all-rounder Mr Jason Holder, who missed the tours of The Netherlands and Pakistan, is also being rested against Bangladesh.

Additionally, the absence of express fast bowler Mr Shannon Gabriel following pronounced lack of success in the regional tournament — after a return from injury and unfitness — and injury doubts surrounding the highly respected Mr Kemar Roach, mean the West Indies will be short of experience in the bowling department come Thursday.

Opportunity surely beckons for the young and ambitious, as the Caribbean ambassadors seek to push further up the table in the World Test Championships, on the heels of their shock series victory over England earlier this year.

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