Pakistan are determined to complete an historic 9-0 rout of the West Indies when the two teams meet in the third and final Test in Sharjah on Sunday.
Having blanked their opponents 3-0 in both the Twenty20 and one-day internationals, Pakistan also claimed the first two Tests — by 56 runs in the day-nighter in Dubai and by 133 runs in the second match in Abu Dhabi.
No team has ever won all nine matches of a tour in cricket history.
Pakistan’s strong batting line-up, coupled with the leg-spin of Yasir Shah, proved too good for the inexperienced West Indies who started the tour on a sour note when head coach Phil Simmons was sacked. They looked rudderless in the limited-overs series and despite fighting gallantly in both Tests by extending the matches to the fifth and final days with stubborn batting, they need a huge lift to avoid another whitewash in Tests.
“Yes, we want to be ruthless, definitely,” said Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur. “We set the challenge that we have eight Tests to play (three in the UAE followed by five in New Zealand and Australia). We have only played two. We are going to judge ourselves on the eight Tests and every Test presents a different challenge.”
Pakistan fly out to New Zealand from Sharjah where they play two Tests, the first in Christchurch from November 17. That will be followed by three Tests in Australia. Arthur said that besides results, he wants to see consistent improvement from notoriously unpredictable Pakistan.
“I go deeper than getting good results. I want us to play a good brand of cricket, see improvement in the players and the roles players are executing. Those are all things I really take note of and the way we are going is unbelievable. Everybody is improving and settled in what they are doing and work rate is outstanding.”
Despite targeting another win, Arthur has not been surprised by the West Indies’ battling performances in the first two Tests. “The conditions are conducive to five days because the games start very slowly and quicken up towards the back end. We mustn’t under-estimate the West Indies, they are a young side.”
Pakistan could bring in either left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz or untried right-arm fast bowler Imran Khan while Mohammad Amir is also an option. Another flat Sharjah pitch will see Shah and two left-arm spinners, Zulfiqar Babar and Mohammad Nawaz retained.
Meanwhile, the West Indies are likely to bring in fast bowler Alzarri Joseph for Miguel Cummins who has taken only one wicket in the two Tests. Despite the UAE losing streak, West Indies captain Jason Holder believes his team is improving. “We had some positives from the two Tests,” said Holder. The difference between our team and the big teams is we have not capitalised after getting starts and that is due to a lack of experience.”
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan.
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Leon Johnson, Alzarri Joseph, Marlon Samuels, Jomel Warrican.