WI vs Pak – Rain, spin could hold sway at Sabina Park as WI face Pakistan

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Teams seek progress as they begin new WTC campaigns

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A dustbowl at Sabina Park, devoid of spectators owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, with rain forecast on all five days of the Test match, doesn’t sound like the first step of any great journey. But it is at this venue that West Indies and Pakistan set off on a mission to put right all that went awry in the past two years, trying to ensure they’re in the running to challenge New Zealand in their defence of the World Test Championship in two years’ time.

West Indies, who finished second from bottom in the inaugural cycle, will be especially pleased their most recent series, a dismal 2-0 thrashing at South Africa’s hands, didn’t count towards the WTC. But if that’s the form they continue to bring this time around, they’re unlikely to push themselves any higher up the table. Head coach Phil Simmons admitted the quality of batting needed to improve by leaps and bounds, and was content to pass along the favourites tag to Pakistan for the series, one Babar Azam’s side would rather not be burdened with.

That South Africa series might not be an entirely accurate depiction of West Indies’ stage of development at this point, with a previous series against Sri Lanka highlighting some of their all-round quality, and a spirited win against Bangladesh spotlighting their depth. The batting has shown shades of the class that is required at this level, but several batters making contributions in the same innings has been an issue. Meanwhile, the three-pronged pace-bowling attack of Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, and Jason Holder would trouble most sides, while Jamel Worrican, Rakheem Cornwall or even Roston Chase could find grip and turn on Sabina Park’s surface.

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