What’s the story?
Pakistan may have secured automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, but failure to overcome a weak, albeit dogged West Indies side and inability to protect a 26-year series unbeaten streak against the hosts would be a major disappointment.
In case you didn’t know…
Pakistan have won their last eight ODI series against West Indies and haven’t lost to them since 1991, a few months before the former won their first and so far only 50-over World Cup.
The series started with both fighting for a guaranteed berth in the next World Cup, an unusual scenario prompted by the steady progress of Bangladesh. Winning the second ODI was significant for Pakistan, ensuring their qualification and stopping a four-match losing rot.
A win on Tuesday would at least begin to repair the damage of a torrid few months, and provide a much-needed boost ahead of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan’s send-off Test series.
West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel could miss out due to a hamstring injury sustained in the second ODI. Although should he be unavailable, Miguel Cummins offers Jason Holder similar speed and ability. Veerasammy Permaul, another speedster, was called up to the squad after Gabriel’s injury and could possibly feature.
Neither side have excelled of late in the 50-over format – both have lost four of their last five – as the rankings suggest, with Pakistan in particular looking for new solutions to right their wrongs. They’ve had varying success with Junaid Khan, who has replaced Wahab Riaz, and he deserves more out of his performance last time out.
Contrastingly, new captain Sarfraz Ahmed has so far struggled to set the right tone. Pakistan were rarely threatened on Sunday, yet Sarfraz felt the need to shout out orders in a way some criticised. How he copes in this crunch game will be intriguing.
The match at Providence Stadium in Guyana – the venue for the first two games – is scheduled to get underway at 09:30 local time (19:00 IST). The forecast is largely dry, with showers possible later in the day.
Given Pakistan’s historic inconsistency, that they have managed to build such a long streak is a notable achievement. However, they face a serious fight to keep it alive in this short, but entertaining series.
Babar Azam recaptured top form in the second ODI with a dominant 125 not out, and his continued success could be vital if Pakistan are to get over the line. West Indies, meanwhile, could do with a big performance from the talented Evin Lewis, who shines out in an otherwise fragile batting order.
Inexperience seems to be a running trait in West Indies sides nowadays, which would make a pressure win all that more impressive, if they could pull it off. But Pakistan are superior in all suits and should fancy going on and completing the comeback.