PREVIEW: Windies eyeing ‘perfect game’

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – West Indies enter the decisive third Test against Pakistan at Windsor Park here Wednesday chasing the “perfect cricket game” as they seek to notch their first series win over a higher-ranked side in five years and turn the corner on a worrying trend of results.

A series which started in disappointment with a seven-wicket defeat at Sabina Park last month suddenly took a turn for the better last week when the Windies produced a memorable performance to crush Pakistan by 106 runs at Kensington Oval and level the three-match series.

And with the hosts on the verge of ending a protracted drought, captain Jason Holder told reporters that rather than feeling pressure, it was critical his side pulled all the various facets of their game together to execute over the next five days.

“There’s no pressure. We’re in a situation where we’ve played some good cricket in this series so far,” a calm Holder said on the eve of the contest.

“We haven’t been perfect but we’re striving to play a perfect cricket game. Once we strive to do that and we get 99 per cent of that going right I think we will be on the better side at the end of this game.”

He added: “It always gives you confidence to win any cricket game. As I said before, there are still a few areas I would like to see them tighten up in. One, is for sure, our fielding and I urge the guys to play a perfect cricket game and there’s no better chance to do than in this final game.”

West Indies were almost unrecognizable in the last Test in Barbados. On every occasion they found themselves in trouble, they fought back gallantly, before producing the ultimate bowling performance on the final day to dismiss Pakistan for a record-equaling venue-low 81.

But even with the memories of the victory still fresh, Holder urged his side not to dwell on the win but rather focus on turning out an improved performance.

“It doesn’t change anything for me [that this game is a series-decider]. I just take it as another cricket game,” Holder noted.

“What happened in Barbados is gone already. It’s important we put that behind us but not forget the good things we’ve done there. We have to improve on a few areas – the fielding is one especially taking our chances – [but] once we forget that (win) as quickly as possible and move on to this game, it’ll be better off for us.”

He continued: “It’s always good to win cricket games but we have to take it in stages. I think once we hold our chances, put a good first innings total up and take 20 wickets, we stand a very good chance of winning this Test match so we have to tick our process boxes and make sure we win this game.”

West Indies’ last series victory over a higher-ranked side was when they beat New Zealand 2-0 in the Caribbean in 2012. Opener Kieran Powell is the only surviving member from that side.

Since then, West Indies have lived in virtual drought, with just nine wins in 36 Tests since then and six of those coming in series against Bangladesh and Zimbabawe.

Of the 13 series played since, the Caribbean side have lost nine.

However, with two victories in their last three Test outings and a new attitude and vigour in the camp, Holder said there was reason to have confidence going forward.

“I think we are heading in the right direction. I think the guys have put in the extra effort at practice,” the all-rounder pointed out.

“We have changed our practice routine slightly where we try to do a little bit more. Our work ethic has been pretty good. I must commend the guys for the way they’ve put the effort in. It’s just about transferring that to the field of play.

“Even in the first game I felt that we were heading in the right direction. We ended the year quite nicely in Sharjah against the said very Pakistan and coming into this year we don’t look too badly at all.”

West Indies have retained the same 13-man squad from the last Test for the encounter here.

SQUADS:

WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Jermaine Blackwood, Shai Hope, Vishal Singh, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins.

PAKISTAN – Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas.

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