West Indies will be eager to win their first match in the tour    AFP
West Indies will be eager to win their first match in the tour AFP

After a one-sided One-Day International (ODI) that went in favour of Pakistan, West Indies are ready to play three-Test series with the same opponent. Both the ODI and Twenty20 International (T20I) series went in favour of Pakistan as they executed back to back whitewashes. West Indies have disappointed thoroughly in the tour, not winning a single match in UAE and with the Tests coming up, their chances of winning against the current World No. 2 in the format look even more bleak. West Indies will be desperate for a win to earn respect and better their performances in whites for sure. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Pakistan vs West Indies, 1st Test match

West Indies are the world champions in the T20I format and were expected to dominate Pakistan in the three-match T20I series that initiated the tour. But the scenario was somewhat different, with Pakistan taking full advantage of the conditions and winning all the matches of the series. West Indies failed to put up even a competitive performance, handing straight defeats. The bowling unit that had experienced names like Sulieman Benn and Sunil Narine who were expected to scalp wickets in the favourable conditions of UAE failed to perform up to the expectations. Th most disappointing part has to be the West Indies batting. While the fans had seen high scorers against India in USA, the line-up toppled like dominoes in front of a novice Pakistan bowling attack.

While the team expected a change of fate heading into ODI series that followed, more disappointment came their way as the series resulted in yet another whitewash. The bowlers looked better than the previous series but the batsmen could not do justice, failing on consecutive occasions. While the Pakistan side combined their force to put forward a team performance, West Indies’ performance was more like scattered individual performances which were not enough to take them to victory.

As the two teams lock horns in the first Test at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, here is West Indies’ likely XI with which they might take the field with.

Top-order: The West Indies squad has a lot of options for the top-order, to be specific, the opening slot. Kraigg Brathwaite has to be one name who is expected to be there for the opening Test, looking at his form and experience. The West Indies side does not have many names who are experienced and is rather a young bunch of players and Kraigg Brathwaite is definitely one player who has more experience than most of the players in the format. To accompany the right-hand batsman, Leon Johnson, the southpaw, will be the best among the rest of the options as that will maintain the right-hand left-hand combination of the opening pair.

The two were seen opening against India in Tests and West Indies, who are looking to build an entirely new team, may not want to change the combination and give them another try. West Indies’ No. 3 spot in Tests belongs to Darren Bravo, easily the most experienced and talented batsman the current squad has. The team depends upon this player a lot and the crucial spot of No. 3 belongs to him so that he can make play comfortably, ensuring a good score for him and his team.

Middle-order: Among things that West Indies need right now are stability, experience and consistency. Marlon Samuels has it all and is the perfect name to play at No. 4 following Bravo. Samuels was among those few who performed in the limited-overs format in the current tour. Samuels will play a crucial role of building the bridge between top and middle order of the team’s batting. Coming out after Bravo, he can build the most crucial partnership of the innings with him and contribute majorly towards team’s runs.

Samuels has a lot of experience of playing in conditions that favour spin and will have to put all that into the game and help his team out at the time of need. Jermaine Blackwood comes out to bat following Samuels and is the one who will have to stay at the crease and will be responsible for building partnerships with the tail-enders. Roston Chase, who is the find of the Test series against India, is expected to make it to the playing eleven against Pakistan looking at his performance. The cricketer is capable of playing long innings down the order while skipper Jason Holder is another name who is a good lower-order batsman. Wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich, who bats at No. 7, will strengthen the batting even more.

Bowlers: Looking at the conditions of UAE, one name who has to be depended upon is Devendra Bishoo. Bishoo has earlier executed match-winning spells in conditions that favour spin. The player is experienced of playing in different circumstances and will have to take up responsibilities. With Bishoo, there will be Chase who impressed everyone with his performance lately. Kraigg Brathwaite will also be in the spin squad with his offspin. With slots open for two pacers, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph are expected to make it to the final eleven. Skipper Holder will also be a big name who will play as one of the front line bowlers.

With a changed squad for the longest format, West Indies will try their luck for the last time in the tour. The team has talented players and all they need to put forward is a team performance.

Likely XI: Kraigg Brathwaite, Leon Johnson, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich (wk), Jason Holder (c), Devendra Bishoo, Alzarri Joseph, Shanon Gabriel.

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)