West Indies will look to forget their off-field woes and try to make a statement as World Twenty 20 champions when they take on a young Pakistan side in the first of the three match-match series today.
Both the outfits have explosive talents and the clash will be quite a fascinating one to watch. West Indies come into the tournament at the back of a turmoil as their coach Phil Simmons was recently sacked. They are also without their talismanic all-rounder Andre Russell who is currently facing doping charges.
Even Chris Gayle has dropped out of the tour citing injury problems. In the recently concluded T20 series against India too Gayle did not take part. The tourists will be captained by all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite who first came into the limelight in the World T20 final when he tonked England’s Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to clinch the crown for his side. Joel Garner has travelled with the outfit as their new coach.
Brathwaite hopes his team will play to their full potential at the hot and humid conditions in the UAE which Pakistan are using as their home ground. West Indies have got experience playing in such conditions as they had trained there before the World T20.
"It wasn`t as hot early in the year, but, apparently, we`re smack dab in the middle of their summer, so it can get very, very hot," Brathwaite was quoted by AFP.”It`s for the players to prepare well, manage themselves well off the field, rehydration-wise, get enough rest, and each and every one of us is a professional, and evidently performing well when the games come."
The Windies have just three uncapped players in the squad namely, fast bowler Kesrick Williams, all-rounder Rovman Powell and wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran who will be itching do well against a buoyant Pakistan side.
The hosts who are in brilliant form will again look up to their batters to deliver the goods. In the last T20 game that Pakistan played in they crushed England by nine wickets. The game was also Sarfraz Ahmed’s first as skipper.
Speaking about his team’s chances, Ahmed said:"We didn`t think England were World Twenty20 finalists when we beat them at Manchester."We will do the same here, go out and play hard because the team which plays well on the ground wins a T20 match. Even without Gayle and Russell, West Indies is strong and a T20 match is not won with big names only."
The man whom Pakistan will rely on to get them the wickets--Mohammad Amir has also joined the squad after his wedding on Tuesday. It will also be a return to international cricket for batsman Umar Akmal who was suspended during the England tour due to disciplinary issues. Akmal paved his way back in by scoring a blitzy century in a national T20 game.
The next game will be held at the same venue on Saturday and the third will be in Abu Dhabi two days later.The teams will also play three one-day internationals and three Tests.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Rumman Raees, Umar Akmal, Saad Nasim
West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams