With the end of the second Test against West Indies, there was a sense that the series decider will be nothing more than a dead rubber in real sense.
But come this Sunday, the so called ‘dead-rubber’ will start, and believe it or not, but there is a lot at stake for both teams.For Pakistan, a unique chance of 9-0 is up for grab, as the hosts have already whitewashed the opponents in the ODI and T20I series as well.
Misbah-ul-Haq led unit will be hoping for another smooth sailing after domination the second Test in Abu Dhabi, where the Green Caps won by 133 runs to take an unassailable lead in the series.For West Indies, their reputation which is already tarnished by disappointing performances in the 50 and 20-over formats, is at stake.Jason Holder will be hoping to turn things around in the last match of the long tour, as he desperately looks to avoid another hammering in Sharjah this time around.
For the home side, Misbah is set to become officially Pakistan’s most-capped captain, as he will lead the team in the 49th time in the five-day format.It will be a remarkable journey for the 42-year-old, who has already proved his critics wrong at every step, and took Pakistan to the top of the ranking in the Test format as well.
However, Misbah will be aware of the visiting side’s potential, who nearly stunned the home side in first day-night Test, and lost by a small margin of 56-runs.It was not the only time when hosts struggled so far in the series, as they faced stiff resistance in the second innings of the second Test as well, where Windies managed to bat 108 overs while batting last on a turning track.Pakistan team management will have to make some serious decisions regarding the places of fast-bowler Sohail Khan and veteran spinner Zulfiqar Babar.
Sohail made a great come back in the five-day format on England tour, but has so far not proved his quality in testing conditions, and just picked three wickets in first two Tests, which is why it is expected that he will be replaced by fast-bowler Wahab Riaz.
On the other hand Zulfiqar, who played the Abu Dhabi Test after missing the first match, looked completely out of sort and just picked two wickets in the match, and therefore his place in the final line up is also up for question, and it is expected that he will be replaced by left-armer Mohammad Amir.
On the other hand, Holder will be hoping that the first match hero middle-order batsman Darren Bravo and leg-spinner Davendra Bishoo will return to the form, after both players had a pretty poor outing in the Abu Dhabi Test.
But the visitors are expected to make at least one change with wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich, who missed the second Test due to injury, is declared fit and is expected to take part in the final match of the series.
The pitch has the look of the typical Sharjah track, which is perfect batting pitch in the beginning but will also provide assistance to the spinners as the match goes on.