WI v Pak 1st T20I Preview: Pakistan look to unsettle champions West Indies

Pakistan. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

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When Pakistan hosted West Indies in the UAE in late 2016, there was only one team that dictated terms during the tour. The ‘hosts’ managed to thoroughly outplay the visitors and the Pakistani side had completely whitewashed the men from the Caribbean in the limited overs series. The T20 World Champions, West Indies, were humbled 0-3 in the T20I series back then.

Amidst this backdrop comes the next full tour of the Asian side to the Caribbean Islands. The teams will face off in 4 T20Is before the action would move on to the longer formats. Both teams have got a plethora of changes in their respective sides and that has certainly led to the build-up to the series. While the hosts, West Indies, have focused on getting back their veteran stars, the visiting Pakistani outfit has made it a point to try their young guns on the tour.

A few big names like Kamran Akmal and Kieron Pollard are sure to get a lot of headlines during the series. Talking about the current form of the two sides, Windies have had an embarrassing time at home after being drubbed 0-3 by England recently. On the other hand, Pakistan had a tough tour down under as well. Both teams will see the upcoming series as a good opportunity to get some crucial wins under their belt.

Focus will be on:

Kieron Pollard – The big hitting batsman Kieron Pollard has seen dwindling fortunes in his form in the recent times. He was under the scanner for having underperformed in the UAE tour last year. However, he turned out to be a vital asset for the Karachi Kings in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League. Pollard, who has played 50 T20Is till date, will see this series as a second coming for him. He will be available for the entire series and the WICB confirmed the same recently.

Sohail Tanvir – The veteran Pakistani pacer has played over 249 T20s in his career. But in the recent times, he missed out on most of the action in the national setup. It was during the UAE tour last year when Pakistan hosted West Indies, that Tanvir had made a comeback to the national side. The selectors have kept their faith intact in him and the T20 veteran will be bagging some limelight. Tanvir has 258 wickets to his name in 249 matches till date with a best of 6/14. His recent performances in the PSL were commendable too.

Kamran Akmal – The 35-year-old Pakistan wicketkeeper was awarded a national recall after his impressive showing in the Pakistan Super League. He had finished as the highest run-scorer in the tournament with 353 runs to his name in PSL  2017. Prior to that, he had a decent home season as well where he finished with 1035 runs at an average close to 80. Kamran had last played for the men in green back in 2014 World T20. Ever since being dropped from the national side, Kamran did well on the domestic front. He had 900 runs in First Class season of 2014-15 and 576 runs in List A fixtures in the same season.

West Indies – Team combination

West Indies were dented with injuries prior to the England series. All-rounder Dwayne Bravo missed out due to a hamstring injury and the injury has now kept him out of action from the upcoming T20I series. Johnson Charles and Nicholas Pooran have lost out on being named in the squad. The man who has got a lucky break in is Jason Mohammed.

Mohammed was the stand out performer for West Indies in the embarrassing 0-3 outing in the England series. The Windies are likely to field in veteran players like Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine in the playing eleven.

The pace department is likely to see Kesrick Williams in the opening fixture. Skipper Carlos Brathwaite has had a poor run in the recent past and would want to put up an improved show. Jason Holder finds himself in a similar position too. Holder will be competing with Jerome Taylor for a place in the side. Holder’s batting credentials might see him edge out ahead of Taylor.

Pakistan – Team combination

Given the kind of form he is in, Kamran Akmal is a certain starter in the lineup. Albeit he might not take the wicketkeeping gloves, he has every chance of playing as a specialist batsman. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will assume the wicket keeping duties.

Experienced player Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez are also likely to make a comeback to the side. Among other batsmen, Babar Azam looks to be in sublime form and was the breakthrough player for Karachi Kings in PSL this year. Imad Wasim will take the all-rounder slot in the lineup.

Rookies like Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan might have to wait a little long for their turn in the series. The pace department will boast of Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, and Hasan Ali. Rumman Raees looks like the pacer to miss out from the playing eleven.

Toss: Pakistan won the toss and opted to field

Quotes from captains:

Carlos Brathwaite: The pitch ain’t gonna deteriorate too much. The team which plays best will win. We are pretty confident. We are at home. We would take care of things we can take care of.

Sarfraz Ahmed: We want to bowl first. Yeah, we have got enough in the team thanks to the return of Mohammad Hafeez. The likes of Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim are also there. The preparations have been good over the last two days.

Playing XI:

Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali

West Indies: Evin Lewis, Chadwick Walton(w), Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Carlos Brathwaite(c), Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Kesrick Williams


77 – Mohammad Hafeez has scored 1614 runs in T20Is. He needs 77 more runs to surpass Umar Akmal (1690) and become the leading run-getter for Pakistan in the format.

250 – Sohail Tanvir will be playing his 250th T20 match if he plays in the first T20I against West Indies.

2013 – The last bilateral series between the two sides in the Caribbean islands had seen Pakistan beat West Indies 2-0.