Pakistan vs West Indies, 1st T20I Preview: New-look WI take on red-hot Pakistan with eye on next T20 WC
The absence of captain Kieron Pollard is a massive loss for West Indies as stand-in skipper Nicholas Pooran will have the responsibility of galvanising his young troops.
LIVE SCORES - Pakistan vs West Indies, 1st T20I
Contrasting returns in T20 WC
West Indies and Pakistan had contrasting returns in the recently-concluded 2021 T20 World Cup. Pakistan were the team to beat in the competition alongside England and finished the Super 12 stage unbeaten, finally losing to Australia in the semi-final.
On the contrary, West Indies managed just one victory in the Super 12 stage and finished at the fifth spot in Group 1.
The in-form players
The last time both teams faced off in a T20 International was not long ago. Pakistan were on a proper tour of the West Indies just before the World Cup, but the tour was hampered due to poor weather, with three of the four T20 Internationals being washed out.
Pakistan won the only completed match by 7 runs to take the series.
Nicholas Pooran and Evin Lewis were the top scorers for West Indies in the little play that was possible. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan led the batting charts for Pakistan.
Among the bowlers, Jason Holder and Dwayne Bravo did well for the home side while Hasan Ali was among the wickets for Pakistan. All these three players are not part of the series.
No Malik, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali or Hafeez
Both teams have decided to rest some of their key players and bring in some fresh blood, which is obvious given that the next T20 World Cup is less than a year away.
Pakistan will be without Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Hafeez.
West Indies without Pollard, Holder, Lewis, Hetmyer, Russell and Simmons
Apart from the injured Pollard, West Indies will miss the services of Jason Holder whose workload is being managed. Fabian Allen and Obed McCoy are recovering from injuries while Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell and Lendl Simmons are unavailable due to personal reasons.
WI lead selector Roger Harper gave his reasons for picking the following players to replace the absentees.
"There are a number of talented newcomers in each format that will have the opportunity to show what they are capable of at the international level. Justin Greaves is a very talented player, had a good CG Insurance Super50 tournament and performed well in the President's XI match against Ireland in 2020. Odean Smith really grabbed our attention in the last CPL. His pace was never in question, however, he has added greater control and has displayed the ability to be a wicket-taker."
"Shamarh Brooks batted well in the CG Insurance Super50 Cup and followed that up with good performances in the CPL. He will lend greater depth to the batting line-up. Gudakesh Motie has been rewarded for his outstanding performance in the CG Insurance Super50, followed up by his showing in the CPL. Dominic Drakes has the potential to be an outstanding all-rounder as he displayed during the last CPL."
The West Indies batting will hold a completely new look in the absence of big guns. This is also a period of transition for West Indies with the likes of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo no longer fitting in the scheme of things.
Onus on Hope, Pooran
Shai Hope, Brandon King, Darren Bravo and Roston Chase are likely to be West Indies top 4 with Nicholas Pooran, who will lead the side in the absence of Kieron Pollard, in the role of the finisher.
Rovman Powell and Dominic Drakes provide West Indies with solid pace bowling all-round options while left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein and wrist spinner Hayden Walsh Jr will look to make the most of Pakistan's spin friendly conditions. Oshane Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell are likely to be WI's leading pacemen.
Predicted Playing XIs
West Indies - Shai Hope, Brandon King, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Nicholas Pooran (c), Rovman Powell, Dominic Drakes, Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh Jr, Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell
Pakistan - Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Haris Rauf
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