Preview: West Indies look to settle scores against Pakistan in 1st T20 today
BARBADOS – The West Indies will be looking to turn their fortunes around when they take on Pakistan in the Twenty20 International series against at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Sunday.
The two teams met in the UAE last September, where Pakistan won the three-match T20I series 3-0. Now the West Indies has the opportunity to settle scores on home soil. The match in Barbados is the first of four – a rarity in bilateral T20 International series – with the remaining three to be played at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad.
Toby Radford, the West Indies batting coach, believed that the faster nature of the pitches would give his side a competitive edge, unlike the slower ones in the UAE which Pakistan exploited to their advantage.
“I think the big thing when we played out there is we found that the pitches were particularly slow and obviously suited their spin bowlers and they made very, very big boundaries and made us run a lot,” he said.
“So hopefully the wickets will be a lot quicker here, more of what we are used to. We are used to playing on these surfaces and when you are on your home patch, everyone is really up for playing and wants a win so hopefully we’re going to get a lot of good support as well. I’m very much ready for a good show from everyone.”
However, the West Indies is missing quite a few of its big-name players. Chris Gayle has not played international cricket since the 2016 World T20, Dwayne Bravo has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, and Andre Russell is serving out a one-year ban due to a doping-code violation.
While there’s no doubt they will be missed, West Indies received a boost with Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and Lendl Simmons available for the entire series. Jason Mohammed, the 30-year-old batsman who impressed with back-to-back fifties against England in the One-Day Internationals, and Rovman Powell, the 23-year-old allrounder who has been compared to Russell, could also get a look-in.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has selection headaches of its own to deal with. After the corruption scandal hit the Pakistan Super League, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan were among those provisionally suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board in relation to the case. Furthermore, Mohammad Amir has been rested and Umar Akmal has been dropped after he didn’t meet the fitness standard set by the management.
As a result, the selectors threw a lifeline to Kamran Akmal, 35, who last featured in the 2014 World T20; Ahmed Shehzad, 25, and Mohammad Hafeez, 36, who last played in the 2016 World T20; and Usman Khan, who had debuted in 2013 and only played two T20Is. Two uncapped players who have performed well in the recent PSL season could also be considered: Fakhar Zaman, the left-hand batsman, and Shadab Khan, the legspinner.
Both Carlos Brathwaite, the West Indies captain, and Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, have their work cut out in picking their best XI, but the series provides an opportunity for a newcomer or a player on the comeback path to cement a spot in the side.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain, wicket-keeper), Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Rumman Raees, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan.
West Indies: Samuel Badree, Carlos Brathwaite (capt), Jonathan Carter, Andre Fletcher, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Veerasammy Permaul, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton (wk), Keswick Williams. –ICC