BRIDGETOWN: Pakistan and West Indies will play their first game of the four-match T20I series on Wednesday (today), with the series expected to be pivotal for both the teams heading into the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.
Pakistan came into this series on the back of a 2-1 loss against England. The visitors have problems of their own heading into the T20 World Cup. Apart from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, the batting line-up has yet to fire collectively. The bowlers too haven’t played up to the high standards they have set, giving away more than 200 runs twice in the three-match series against England.
Captain Azam will be looking for all-round improvement from his side when they face West Indies in the first T20I at Bridgetown.
Coming off a hard-fought white-ball series against Australia, West Indies do not have time to put their feet up as they take on Pakistan in the first T20I. Having beaten the Aussies 4-1 in the T20I series, the Windies will want to carry forward the momentum going into the Pakistan series.
Led by the hard-hitting Kieron Pollard, the West Indies team have been a force to reckon with in the shortest format of the game and have been touted as one of the favourites to lift the ICC T20 World Cup later this year. A four-match series against the fourth-ranked T20I side will be the perfect opportunity for Windies to test themselves ahead of the mega event.
One of the most consistent criticisms of this West Indies T20 squad is that they are too reliant on boundary-hitting and soak up far too many scoreless deliveries for them to be consistently competitive when the big events come around. That was apparent against both the South Africans and Australians.
This is something Pakistan will no doubt want to exploit, especially if the surfaces are helpful enough and the likes of Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Usman Qadir and even the evergreen Mohammad Hafeez are confident enough to challenge the vaunted West Indies power-hitters in the manner of Shamsi and Linde just a few weeks ago.
Pakistan hosted West Indies at home in April 2018 and completed a 3-0 whitewash.
The hosts registered a 143-run win in the first T20I, their biggest win by runs, after they dismissed Windies for just 60, defending 203.
Pakistan once again put up a score in excess of 200 in the second game, with Babar Azam remaining unbeaten just three runs short of a century. The visitors put up a slightly better batting performance but ultimately got bundled out for 123, falling short by 82 runs.
Pakistan completed the whitewash by chasing down a target of 154 with 19 balls to spare with Azam once again starring with a fifty.
However, the side that toured Pakistan three years ago is drastically different to the one that will play four-match series starting today.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain.
West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh, Fidel Edwards.
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