Hosts Pakistan should not have any difficulty in winning the ODI series against West Indies as the visitors will be without most of their key players
The West Indies cricket team is arriving in Pakistan next week for a three-match ODI series. This series is the continuation of West Indies' December 2021 tour to Pakistan when the Green-shirts whitewashed the tourists in the three-match T20I series. The ODI series that was scheduled from December 18 was postponed due to several coronavirus cases in the visiting team's camp.
Pakistan won the last Twenty20 series quite convincingly 3-0. They outclassed the inexperienced West Indies team in all departments of the game. Pakistan won the first match by 63 runs, second by nine runs and the third by seven wickets.
In the absence of senior players like Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Shimron Hetmyer and Fabian Allen the West Indies team looked toothless.
Before the T20I series, Covid ruled out Sheldon Cottrell, Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers. The series against Pakistan was a tough task for Justin Greaves, Shamarh Brooks, left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie and allrounders Odean Smith and Dominic Drakes who were selected for the first time.
West Indies cricket team went in more trouble when before the third T20I three more players, wicketkeeper-batsman Shai Hope, left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, and allrounder Justin Greaves, also tested positive for Covid-19.
West Indies will play three ODIs in the Netherlands before coming to Pakistan. These six ODIs are part of the ODI Super League championship.
The situation is not good for West Indies, once again. The visitors are heading into the games without several high profile players. All-rounder Jason Holder has been rested from the two tours to manage his workload, while Evin Lewis also misses out as he was unable to meet the fitness criteria.
New Test captain Nicholas Pooran will lead the touring side while Shai Hope will be his deputy. The assignments will also be a big chance for Pooran to stamp his authority after the retirement of his predecessor Kieron Pollard.
West Indies squad consists of mostly new faces. Fast bowlers Seales, Romario and Shermon Lewis have been selected for ODIs for the first time. Batsman Keacy Carty's selection also makes history as he is the first player from St. Maarten to have received a call for the national squad.
Former West Indies opener and now selector Desmond Haynes claimed: "We also have a very good group of young fast bowlers who have demonstrated their ability and we want to use these two tours to give them opportunities in the 50-over format. We have a week in the Netherlands and another week in Pakistan and this should provide them with quality opposition to bowl against as we build towards the Cricket World Cup in 2023."
The ODI Series will be West Indies' fourth series of 12 in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League from which the top seven teams will secure automatic qualification for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 in India.
West Indies are currently ninth on the ICC ODI teams' points table. They lost each of their three most recent ODI series, including an unexpected 2-1 defeat to Ireland at home.
After this tour, West Indies will have only three remaining games in the Super League, against New Zealand. If they fail to achieve direct qualification, they will have to enter the competition via a qualifier tournament, a route the side used to reach the 2019 World Cup in England.
On the other hand, Pakistan have announced an experienced squad for the ODI series. Skipper Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafiq will take the top order responsibilities while Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah and Mohammad Rizwan will constitute the middle order.
On the bowling side, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani will share the new ball. Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz will test the West Indies middle order skills. Vice-captain Shadab Khan has returned to the ODI squad after recovering from his injuries. Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan are in good form and playing vital roles for their respective counties in England this season.
Five players who were part of the Australia ODIs have not been included in the upcoming series: Asif Ali, Asif Afridi, Usman Qadir, Haider Ali, and Saud Shakeel.
Defending the decision of selecting a full squad against the weak West Indies team, chief selector Muhammad Wasim said the ODIs are part of the Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification. We have decided to give the best chance to our side to collect maximum points and strengthen our chances of progressing directly for the tournament. I hope this bunch will continue the form they gained from the Australia series."
Pakistan won that three-ODI series 2-1 before losing the one-off T20I.
Regarding Usman Qadir, Asif Ali and Haider Ali, Wasim said that Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan are now fully fit due to which Usman Qadir was not selected, but they remain in the plans for the shortest format. "We have a series of T20Is lined up this year, including the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022."
On paper, the Pakistan team looks much stronger than the tourists due to players' experience, but in the limited overs game, any team can turn the table on its day.