The recent ODI series between West Indies and Pakistan saw the sub-continent side emerge as 3-1 winners. However, victory for Pakistan was not as straight forward as the series score line may imply.
Both teams had the chance to assess their players, including both those who performed and those who did not. If either team is to progress in the ICC rankings, then they need to find some more long-term solutions.
West Indies have now dropped below New Zealand to eighth in the ICC rankings, courtesy of defeat in the final ODI. With six consecutive Test victories - albeit against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - and a second-place ranking in T20s, their indifferent form in ODI cricket needs to be addressed.
Here then is what we learned from the recently concluded series:
1. At 39 years old, Misbah-ul-Haq shows no signs of quitting any time soon.
Top scorer in the series with 260 runs, he was the backbone of a fragile Pakistan batting line up.
He throws himself around in the field and gives 100%. The next World Cup may just be in Misbah’s sights. The younger members of the Pakistan team would do well to try to learn as much as possible from him.
2. Umar Akmal is back with a bang.
After the disappointment of his omission from the Champions Trophy earlier this year, Akmal has made his claim to the selectors once more. His efforts in the fourth and fifth ODIs were instrumental in winning the series for Pakistan. His work behind the stumps has also been impressive.
3. Chris Gayle’s weakness may have finally been uncovered.
Gayle’s wretched form this year continued in this series, as he could only muster 61 runs from five innings. He seemed all at sea to the moving balls early on, which led to him being moved down the order for the final two games.
Facing spin when new to the crease is by no means an easy task, and is something which Gayle found out.
4. West Indies have lost patience with Kieron Pollard.
Six single figure scores, including four ducks in his last seven innings, have led the West Indies' selectors to dropping Pollard for the final two games.
He has promised much but seldom delivered for his country, and he will need to put in some great performances if he is to walk back into the team.
5. Shahid Afridi is still 'Mr Inconsistent'.
After astounding figures of 7/12 and 76 runs in the opening game of the series, Afridi only contributed 26 more runs and three wickets in the four ODIs that followed.
For a player of his immense talent, he needs to start performing on a consistent basis if Pakistan are to move up the rankings.
6. Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan showed that the art of left arm bowling is not dead.
Both bowlers got the ball to move early on, and got the older ball to reverse swing. They troubled Chris Gayle in particular, something which they can both take encouragement in.
7. Jason Holder is one for the future.
Figures of 4/13 in the first ODI showed exactly what this young man is capable of. He performed well beyond his years throughout the series with the ball, and his efforts in the tied game with the bat will be remembered for years to come.
He has modelled himself, and his action on Curtly Ambrose, and if he performs as well as Ambrose did, then watch this space.
All either team can do is to encourage their players to work on their weaknesses, and attempt to build on their strengths. A strong Pakistan and West Indies team would benefit the entire cricket world.
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