CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC):
A close finish is anticipated between Pakistan and West Indies when the two sides meet in the fifth and final deciding game of their five-match One-Day international (ODI) series at the Beausejour playing field today.
West Indies need a win to draw the delicately poised series, punctuated with twists and turns, which Pakistan currently lead 2-1.
The visitors stormed back from a precarious position to win the first match while the homeside rebounded to win the second game convincingly.
However, the third match climaxed in a dramatic last-ball, last-wicket tie before Pakistan prevailed in the rain-affected fourth ODI.
Given the importance of the final match, West Indies are likely to bring Chris Gayle back to his usual opening spot in the batting order, but would also expect him to fire.
Gayle has had a poor run of form thus far and was pushed down the order, allowing Devon Smith to open with Johnson Charles in the last game.
The bowling looks in good shape with Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, and Sunil Narine striking consistently with the ball.
The Pakistan captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, has been a thorn in the side of the Caribbean side by leading from the front whenever the team is in disarray with players like Umar Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi rising to the occasion.
Irrespective of the final outcome, Pakistan have maintained their record of not losing a bilateral ODI series in the West Indies since 1988.
They have won the last two – in 2005 and 2011.
Dwayne Bravo’s men are now faced with the task of winning the fifth match to avoid losing another home series to Pakistan.
West Indies: 1. Chris Gayle 2. Johnson Charles, 3. Darren Bravo 4. Marlon Samuels 5. Devon Smith, 6. Lendl Simmons 7. Darren Sammy 8. Dwayne Bravo (capt) 9. Kemar Roach 10. Sunil Narine 11. Jason Holder.
Pakistan: 1. Nasir Jamshed 2. Ahmed Shehzad 3. Mohammad Hafeez 4. Misbah-ul-Haq (capt) 5. Shahid Afridi 6. Umar Akmal 7. Haris Sohail 8. Wahab Riaz 9. Saeed Ajmal 10. Junaid Khan 11. Mohammad Irfan.