Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has warned his players not to get carried away by the four-wicket win against West Indies in the first ODI in Abu Dhabi.
"We have to be consistent," Malik told the Dubai-based daily Khaleej Times. "We lack that and we need to improve on it. I told the boys after the match that though it is one match down, don't look at it that way. We need to look at it match by match. I told them to treat every match as the first match."
In a thrilling finish at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Pakistan needed 17 runs to win off the last over. Kamran Akmal smashed two sixes off Jerome Taylor and Fawad Alam completed the victory with one ball to spare
This is Pakistan's first one-day international series since the Asia Cup in July. The last tournament they took part in was a Twenty20 quadrangular in Toronto featuring the hosts, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
"After a long time, we are playing a big team. Some of our guys have played the [domestic] Pentangular matches as well so most of them were match fit. We hope to carry this form into the next few games. It is always hard when you play some big time cricket after a long time but the guys did really well. It was a team effort."
Malik said it was tough to contain Chris Gayle, who scored 113 off 106 balls on Wednesday, but had confidence in his spinners. "I was hoping that Gayle gets out because West Indies were going at six an over. [Ramnaresh] Sarwan too kept the scoreboard ticking. When you bring on the spinners, it is always hard for the batsmen. It would also slow down their run-rate."
Malik, who batted at No. 5, felt the target of 296 was gettable. His 50-ball 66, with six boundaries and a six, was crucial but he was dismissed with Pakistan needing 33 runs from the last three overs. "I was looking at the situation as one boundary and five singles," Malik said. "When I was batting with Fawad [Alam], I was quite relaxed looking at the way he was batting. He has seven or eight hundreds in domestic cricket. He has the talent and I knew he could do it. I also knew Akmal was capable of pulling it off."
He said the conditions in Abu Dhabi were different and it was tough chasing under lights. "Chasing is difficult under lights because the ball does a bit because of the dew. In the UAE, during the first seven or eight overs, the ball swings a bit. So, we had to pace our innings well."
Pakistan will be hoping to wrap up the three-match series with a win in the second ODI on Friday. However, they are still uncertain about the fitness of Shoaib Akhtar, who missed the first match due to a calf injury. "We will see how it goes. He had a fitness test over a sprint on Wednesday and Thursday. Let's see how he shapes up by Friday," Malik said. The third match will be played on Sunday.