Barbados: April 28 is Heroes Day in Barbados. A national holiday to celebrate people the country is proud of. Like Grantley Adams and Garry Sobers. The West Indies cricket team is in desperate need of a hero - Bajan or otherwise - as they bid to keep the series alive at the Kensington Oval. Unfortunately the cricketers likeliest to produce heroic feats are injured, dropped or plying their trade in India. Darren Sammy's team trails 0-2, and unless they improve dramatically on two inept performances, Pakistan will secure the series with two games to spare.
West Indies have bowling problems. They took only five Pakistan wickets in 89.3 overs in the first two ODIs. Devendra Bishoo accounted for four, while the other was a run-out. Kemar Roach is a threat with the new ball but Pakistan's batsmen have simply played out his testing deliveries, while scoring off the gentle medium-pace at the other end. Jerome Taylor, who would have been an able new-ball partner for Roach, is playing in the IPL instead.
Pakistan have also had the luxury of being able to chase at their own pace, because West Indies' batsmen have been clueless against spin. It was this that decided the first two one-dayers extremely early in the contest. No one has been able to read the variations of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez. At one extreme, Darren Bravo played a shot too many in the second ODI, and at the other Marlon Samuels couldn't play one if he wanted to.
The formula for Pakistan, on a turning St Lucia pitch, was simple. Let West Indies bat first, use spinners to stifle the scoring and pick up wickets without needing to produce anything spectacular, after which their batsmen chase at leisure. The outcome has been rather unattractive to watch - two dreary, uncompetitive matches - but that is no fault of Pakistan's. They too arrived in the Caribbean with several young players, and they've managed to cope far better than the hosts have.