WI vs Pak 2021 – Pakistan’s Hasan Ali happy to beat a West Indies side ‘with such firepower’

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Pakistan’s focus now on the Tests, says the pacer, with the series being a key one for his side in the new World Test Championship cycle

An early 1-0 lead that’s consolidated by not much happening for the rest of the contest sounds like something out of Jose Mourinho’s playbook, but if ever a cricketing equivalent were to have such a result, you’d put good money on Misbah-ul-Haq being the mastermind. There weren’t too many tactics involved in that scoreline, though, with uncooperative weather ensuring a T20I in Guyana was all the cricket that could be played, and once Pakistan edged West Indies in it, there was little West Indies could do to prevent a Pakistan series win.
But while the weather might be the enduring narrative from what should have been a five-match series (even before the weather played foul, Covid-19 cut into the schedule), Pakistan fast bowler Hasan Ali insisted a series win at the home of the defending T20 world champions meant a lot to his side. “Winning away to a side with such firepower that they can hurt you anytime is great. A win is a win and we’re very happy with the series victory in the West Indies,” he said. “We’re all disappointed because we wanted to play. Even when it was raining we were all raring to go. But the weather is not in our control. Of course, the disappointment is we couldn’t prepare properly away to a champion side.
“We had to learn some lessons from the England series, and we’re working on our bowling in the middle and the death. I really like our bowling unit right now, and also my personal form. As a bowling unit, we trust each other and our coaches trust us too. Of course, we have to improve, but we have a month or two to hone our skills ahead of the T20 World Cup.”

“We’re not looking forward to the India match right now at all, to be honest with you. That’s still very far away. My focus is just on these two Tests right now”

Hasan Ali on the T20 World Cup game against India

There’s another assignment, though, before the focus shifts completely to the shortest format. A two-match Test series against West Indies starting next week, to kick off the new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle for both sides. Unlike the last cycle, which somewhat passed Pakistan by, the fixtures and scheduling have fallen in a way that represents a real chance for Babar Azam’s side to claim a spot in the final come 2023. The upcoming two-match series presents arguably Pakistan’s most challenging away fixtures in this cycle, with the other away series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

That, of course, makes performing in this Test series that much more important, and Ali said the series was his side’s primary focus for the moment.

“We’re looking forward to the Tests; we have a few days to get used to the red ball. I’ll try to capitalise on my form and the rhythm I’ve got going for now,” Ali said. “Our team is very balanced. We have plenty of spinners with Yasir [Shah] coming back, and in dry conditions like these that’s very useful.

“Then we also have [pace options in] Shaheen [Afridi], Naseem [Shah], [Mohammad] Abbas and myself. We’ve won the last two Test series [against West Indies] and we’re looking to continue that and get the WTC off in victorious fashion.”

Facing up to the usual, mandatory question on Pakistan being drawn in the same group as India in the T20 World Cup group, Ali was clear that it was not something the team was dwelling on. “We’re not looking forward to the India match right now at all, to be honest with you,” he said. “That’s still very far away. My focus is just on these two Tests right now.”

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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