KARACHI: The narrow nine-run defeat in the second Twenty20 International against Pakistan had left West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran with a feeling of what could’ve been.

The three-match series is gone already, with Pakistan having an unassailable 2-0 lead, but Pooran doesn’t want to be left with the same feeling again on Thursday.

“If we knew why we make mistakes, we’d be the best team in the world,” Pooran told reporters on Wednesday, a day after the loss and a day before the final game of the series.

“Playing against Pakistan, which is among the finest teams in the world, and in their own backyard isn’t easy but we did well yesterday and we will look to build upon that tomorrow. We deserve a victory.”

Pooran is leading a largely inexperienced West Indies team, short of their big name players due to injury or otherwise before being robbed of three more players due to positive Covid-19 tests, but what he saw on Tuesday gave him hope as his side put up a more spirited effort following a 63-run hammering in the opening game of the series a day earlier.

“We’re improving day by day,” Pooran, who was elevated as captain after Kieron Pollard failed to recover from a hamstring injury, said. “If we played yesterday’s game two months down the road, it would’ve been different. There is a process towards winning [matches]. It’s a learning process for us, it takes time to win and we understand that.”

Pooran got a glimpse at West Indies’ potential future on Tuesday with Brandon King playing a stunning 67-run knock and Romario Shepherd showing his power-hitting prowess late on here at the National Stadium.

“I’m extremely happy with the performances of this team The attitude is good and I’m happy to see guys putting their hand up in the last game when no one really gave us a chance. Brandon showed his talent with a very good innings. Romario, Odean Smith and Akeal Hosein are all wonderful to see.”

It was a three-wicket 17th over by Pakistan’s pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi which knocked the stuffing out of the West Indies.

King had already departed earlier as the West Indies slipped from 127-5 to 131-8 by the end of that over, eventually being dismissed for 163.

“We needed a wicket at that time,” Shaheen said following the match. “The older ball helps the fast bowlers and I was trying to bowl wicket to wicket and I found success.”

Pakistan will be looking for a sixth T20 victory on the trot on Thursday, having whitewashed Bangladesh 3-0 away last month.

Prior to that, they had won all of their five group matches at the T20 World Cup in the UAE before losing to eventual champions Australia in the semi-finals.

The current run holds Pakistan in good stead with the Twenty20 World Cup coming again next year in Australia.

“It’s been a team effort … everyone is performing since the World Cup,” all-rounder Shadab Khan, the man-of-the-match in the second T20, said. “We are showing the attitude that is needed for international cricket … and for T20 cricket in particular.”

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2021

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