A NEW-LOOK Pakistan cricket team has prevailed over a strangely depleted West Indies side despite some hiccups in the third one-day international. Why the West Indies have chosen to drop seasoned performers like Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan from the squad remains a mystery, especially given their questionable bench strength. Similarly, Pakistan are without players like Younis Khan and Abdul Razzak who, some argue, are no longer suited to the rigours of limited overs cricket. Pakistan’s premier fast bowler Umar Gul is also being rested for the one-dayers. True, the opposition can be considered weak but the fact remains that a crop of youngsters stepped up to the plate and delivered at a time when this country can do with all the feel-good stories that can possibly come its way.
Pakistan’s lot in international cricket is not enviable. The team cannot play any games at home because of security concerns and it has also been rocked by corruption scandals leading to lengthy suspensions of three key players. Yet the team managed to reach the semi-finals of the cricket World Cup beating the likes of formidable opponents such as Sri Lanka and Australia. Now it has managed to secure a one-day series win in the Caribbean, which again is no mean achievement for a young side. Full marks ought to be awarded to the selectors for showing faith in young blood, and also to captain Shahid Afridi whose dynamic leadership seems to have revitalised the team. Many are now expecting a 5-0 clean sweep in the one-dayers. That may or may not happen, but nothing can detract from the fact that the side fought a good fight and clinched the series without some of the big names in the game. This Pakistan side appears to be going places and should be applauded.