The West Indies, who ended a disastrous run of Test results by beating Zimbabwe earlier this year, face a much tougher challenge in the three-match series against Pakistan, which begins here today.
The West Indies suffered humiliating defeats recently against South Africa and New Zealand but now have a chance to prove that, under their new captain Jimmy Adams, who has taken over from Brian Lara, the tide is turning.
Their recent poor performances resulted this week in the former record wicket-taker Lance Gibbs calling for the resignation of the West Indies Cricket Board president, Pat Roseau. "The buck stops at the president," Gibbs said.
The Test, which might have been switched because of unseasonal rain, is set to go ahead at the Bourda ground over the next five days. The WICB executive secretary Andrew Sealy said: "After monitoring the weather over Georgetown for the past few days, and having been advised of the improvement by the GCB (Guyana Cricket Board), we are satisfied the game can proceed as planned," Sealy said.
Bourda Tests invariably end in draws as the elegant old ground is situated below sea level in a city subject to tropical downpours. On Tuesday, workmen were busy de-silting the trenches around the field while the visitors practised on an adjoining pitch.
If rain does rule out a result this time, the series will be decided in subsequent Tests in Barbados and Antigua later this month.
Pakistan will miss the services of the injured opener Saeed Anwar, who, according to their manager Nazir Anwar, has not fully recovered from a knee operation he underwent in England and is still in some discomfort. It is not clear whether he will be available for the other Tests.
The West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who missed the triangular one-day series against Pakistan and Zimbabwe after suffering from exhaustion, has been named in the squad and has been passed fit to play.
Pakistan's leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who has proved himself as a consistent matchwinner at international level, is expected by coach Javed Miandad to be a key figure. "He is a class bowler... whenever he plays he always gives 100 percent and he always get wickets," Javed said.
Mushtaq, rated one of the best wrist spinners in the world, bowled with unerring accuracy during the one-day international series which was won by Pakistan. He bowled 68 overs for only 205 runs while taking 10 wickets, rounding off the series with 4 for 22 in the deciding third match against the West Indies.
"If I keep bowling like this... I am looking for 20 and 30 wickets in the Test series. That's my mission," Mushtaq said.Reuse content