Pakistan has finally started winning limited over games again. They have been exceptional during the last four T20s and the last three One Day Internationals (ODIs) that they have played.
However, despite being 2-0 up in the ODI series against the West Indies, for the boys in green it is still not a dead rubber and they would be really eager to complete a white wash. Why? Let’s just see!
1. The Captaincy Debate
The series is still alive as far as the debate over Azhar Ali’s captaincy is concerned. To start with he hasn’t scored at all against a bowling attack that lacks bite. Moreover, whatever runs he has had during the previous outings were at an ordinary strike rate.
The recent developments have put a huge question mark over Azhar’s ability as an ODI player and hence, with Pakistan to play it’s next ODIs in Australia, the experts are beginning to wonder if he really should be retained both as a captain and as a player in case, he fails to deliver with the bat once more.
To bring an end to the debate (at least for the time being) it is important for Azhar to win as a captain as well as score and score big at a healthy strike rate during the final ODI in Abu Dhabi.
The fact that the local crowd cheered his dismissal during the previous ODI goes on to show that the public sentiment is not in his favor and a change in guard would certainly be welcomed.
2. ODI Rankings
Top seven teams alongside the hosts (England) will directly qualify for the next world cup in 2019 while the remaining teams will have to compete in the qualifiers.The cutoff date for a direct qualification is 30th of September, 2017.
With a series against Australia during the period and with Pakistan placed at number 9 in the ICC ODI rankings at the moment; our boys face an uphill task to avoid the embarrassment of playing in the qualifying round.
The good news however is that even the teams from West Indies (placed at number 8) and Bangladesh (placed at number 7) have difficult series to follow. Nevertheless, instead of hoping for other teams to do bad, the Pakistani team would certainly prefer to keep things under their control by winning as many ODIs as possible before the cut off time.
3. Momentum for the Test Series
Pakistan has just lost the number one ranking in Test cricket to India. With a difference of only a few points Pakistan would really want to reclaim the top spot and consolidate their ranking (to whatever extent possible) by winning all three Test matches against the Windies.
Since a number of players from the current limited over side are expected to feature in the Test series too, a 3-0 white wash in the ODIs is required to crush the confidence of the opposition on one hand and to keep the momentum going on the other.