A chance to end on a high for Afridi

Pakistan go into the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) against West Indies today with an aim to avenge the one-run loss in the last match before both teams prepare for the Test series.

The tourists were unlucky to end as losers in the fourth ODI as rain helped West Indies scrape home and register their first win in the series and break their eight-match losing streak against the same opposition.

And while Pakistan were left ruing a missed chance of sweeping the series, the visitors will look to seal the ODIs 4-1 in Guyana to crush any boost in confidence West Indies may have earned ahead of the two-match Test series that starts on May 12.

The rankings will not change but captain Shahid Afridi will be playing his last match of the tour and as he prepares to hand over the reigns to Misbahul Haq for the longer version, the all-rounder will want to do it on a winning note.

“It was disappointing to lose the last match but we remain highly motivated and confident of wrapping up the series with a win to give Pakistan a boost ahead of the Test series,” said Afridi, who announced his Test retirement last year.

Last match for Shahzad, Salahuddin

Afridi will be accompanied by opener Ahmed Shahzad and middle-order batsman Usman Salahuddin who both missed out on a place in the Test squad. While the former hit a century in the second ODI, the latter has played one match and will be desperate for runs.

The tour has not been impressive for the captain himself. After being the joint highest wicket-taker in the World Cup, Afridi has taken just two in four matches at an average of 69 and was at the receiving end of a six by Dwayne Bravo that sealed the win for West Indies in the fourth ODI.

His claim at the start of the tour was to improve his batting but 19 runs at 9.5 is barely justice to his talent.

But the performance of a young team has satisfied the skipper. “We came here to win the ODI series and have achieved the target because of teamwork. I’m confident that the team will continue its winning spree in Tests as well.”

While the focus may have started to shift to the Test series, Pakistan will remember that the one time they have batted first, they ended on the losing side.

West Indies relieved

The hosts may take heart out of the performance of two individuals, Lendl Simmons and Devendra Bishoo. The opening batsman has 202 runs while the leg-spinner heads the wickets tally with 10 in four matches.

Both have caused problems for Pakistan and been one of the few positives for West Indies during the tour.

However, captain Darren Sammy has had a series he would rather forget. But ending a run of eight straight ODI defeats to Pakistan and beating a Test side, other than Bangladesh, for the first time since June 2009 was a good omen.

“We needed that. It’s been a while since we had won against a higher-ranked opposition and to do that, the guys will take the positives,” said Sammy.

Article Source:
The Express Tribune

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