West Indies and Pakistan, the 2 supremely-talented Twenty20 teams, collide during a four-match series starting on Wednesday at Kensington Oval in Barbados before the competition shifts to Providence Stadium in Guyana for the remaining three matches.
This was originally scheduled as a five-match series but last week’s Covid 19 scare during the ODI series between the West Indies and Australia forced a two-day delay which has resulted within the loss of 1 of the scheduled encounters in Barbados.
History suggests that the tourists will start as favorites.
Since being well beaten by 84 runs in Dhaka at the 2014 World T20, the Pakistanis have gotten the higher of the reigning world champions in nine of the next ten meetings.
But tons went on within the three years since they last met in April 2018, and while it’s quite possible that Babar Azam’s side, having just begun a really competitive series in England, will maintain their impressive run against these opponents, they might certainly have noticed the transformation — on and off the sector — which suggests that West Indies are a really different outfit now.
While the team which last faced Pakistan in Karachi missed a number of key players, the West Indies can now truly be said to be at full strength, with the exception of spinner Sunil Narine who continues to be unavailable thanks to a reported lack of confidence at this point in his bowling action.
However having Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, and captain Kieron Pollard, alongside a number of other headline names, is not any guarantee of success.
West Indies struggled consistently to chase modest totals during a series with South Africa and were found wanting against the spin of top-ranked Tabraiz Shamsi and to a lesser extent, Geroge Linde, losing the series in Grenada on June 3-2.
West Indies rebounded from that series loss to South Africa to breeze past Australia 4-1 in St Lucia, although their struggles against spin were emphasized within the subsequent three-match ODI series with Australia prevailing 2-1 and West Indies captain Pollard within the immediate aftermath on Monday condemning the pitches prepared for those matches in Bridgetown as a humiliation and unfit for international cricket.
One of the most consistent criticisms of this West Indies T20 squad is that they’re too reliant on boundary-hitting and take in far too many scoreless deliveries for them to be consistently competitive when the large events come around. That was apparent against both the South Africans and Australians.
This is something Pakistan will little question want to take advantage of, especially if the surfaces are helpful enough and therefore 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 within the manner of Shamsi and Linde just a couple of weeks ago.
Teams (Possible X11):
Kieron Pollard (captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh, Fidel Edwards
Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain.