West Indies won the opening Test but they should be well aware that luck and Pakistan’s generosity in the field played their part.
They still have a number of problems to resolve, although mostly with their batting. Kieran Powell and Nkrumah Bonner failed in both their outings of the series opener. Kyle Mayers was the struggler in chief, earning a pair of noughts and wrapping himself in glory … NOT!
Thus, changes for the Windies are even more necessary/inevitable than for their guests. The problem is that the Windies have very few capable options to bring in when playing Test cricket. Had it been the T20Is, they’d have lifted any random stone and found a number of capable power hitters. In five-day format, that’s not possible for them though.
Pakistan will still be reeling from the heartbreak of the opening Test defeat. This is a format where they had a clear advantage over their hosts but still trail 1-0. The manner of their loss, which saw them come within a wicket of a win, stung even more, specially when their familiar jitters in fielding returned and they dropped several easy catches.
Knowing Babar Azam and company, they are likely to make changes for second Test in order to satisfy their critics back home, even if those changes do not make sense.
The two players that stuck out like sore thumbs were opener Imran Butt and legspinner Yasir Shah. Butt failed in both the innings and Shah remained wicketless on a wicket that was seam friendly and had little for spinners.
Butt has failed to set the world since making his debut for Pakistan early this year and is averaging a meagre 17.50 over five Tests. However, he had been tolerated due to his excellent fielding in slips. He again grabbed four catches in the 1st Test. But on a tour where runs are hard to come by, it’s difficult to see how the team decides to retain him just for his fielding.
If the second Test pitch is anything like the first, Shah’s inclusion, too, would make little sense, although a lack of spin, batting allrounders could see him retained too.