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West Indies vs Pakistan 1st T20I Preview: Babar's Boys look to leave behind England embarrassment against strong Windies

Pakistan's Babar Azam and Mohammad Hasnain celebrate after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler
Pakistan's Babar Azam and Mohammad Hasnain celebrate after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler
©Reuters
 

While Pakistan were outplayed in England, West Indies thumped Australia by 4-1 in their last T20 assignment.

LIVE SCORES - West Indies vs Pakistan 1st T20I 

COVID disruptions

A week is a long time in politics, they say. At the moment, even a day is proving to be a very long time in cricket in this COVID-19 age.

The ODI series between West Indies and Australia had to be rescheduled after one non playing member of the Windies squad tested positive for COVID-19. The entire England squad had to be replaced after positive cases in the home side's camp ahead of the ODI series against Pakistan.

Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19 and the series between India and Sri Lanka had to be rescheduled. Likewise, one T20 was dropped from the series between Pakistan and West Indies.

Near-perfect preparation for T20 WC

COVID-19 aside, the series will provide near-perfect preparation for both Pakistan and West Indies ahead of the T20 World Cup set to be played in the UAE and Oman.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has already stated that the team will look to try a few different combinations while head coach Misbah-ul-Haq stressed on improving middle order batting.

Pakistan are coming off a 2-1 series defeat against England but the series was more closely contested than the scoreline suggests, particularly after Pakistan's heavy defeat to England's second string side in the ODIs.

West Indies, on the other hand, are high on confidence as they thumped Australia by 4-1 after narrowly losing a series to South Africa. They did lose the ODI series against Australia at the same venue but better pitches are expected for the T20I.

After having missed the T20Is against Australia, it is great news for the West Indies that Kieron Pollard returns to the XI to take up captaincy duties.

 Simmons, Russell and Walsh in form

Lendl Simmons was the top scorer for West Indies in the T20 series against Australia and struck 165 runs from five innings at an average of 33 and a strike rate of 122. Evin Lewis, Andre Russell and Chris Gayle also scored more than 100 runs each. Nicholas Pooran also showed signs of coming back to form.

With the ball, Hayden Walsh was a cut above the rest and picked up 12 wickets from five matches at an average of 11.67. Andre Russell and Obed McCoy also did well.

Rizwan, Babar doing well but middle order needs to step up

In Pakistan's series defeat against England, Mohammad Rizwan was the top scorer with 176 runs from 3 matches at an average of 88 and a strike rate of 138 with 16 boundaries and 5 sixes. His opening partner Babar Azam also scored 118 runs at an average of almost 40 and an impressive strike rate of over 150.

With a handful of options in the middle order, Pakistan will look to get the pecking order right ahead of the T20 World Cup. Shadab Khan has been very inconsistent and the Pakistan management might want to have a look at leg spinner Usman Qadir on the slow surfaces of West Indies.

McCoy, Walsh Windies' leading bowlers

Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis are the best bet for West Indies at the top of the order. Chris Gayle, despite struggling over the last year, showed signs of coming back to form against Australia. So did Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, which is a great sign for the West Indies middle order.

Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard form a destructive pair at number 6 and 7. Dwayne Bravo isn't slowing down and will be a key player for West Indies with both bat and ball.

Obed McCoy possesses some brilliant variations up his sleeve and has certainly placed himself ahead of Sheldon Cottrell. It will be interesting to see whether West Indies give Fabian Allen, who can bowl four tight overs and can also pop a few over the boundary towards the end, an opportunity or pacer Fidel Edwards who has blown hot and cold.

Predicted playing XIs:

Pakistan
- Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan/Azam Khan, Shadab Khan/Usman Qadir, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi

West Indies - Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard (c), Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh, Obed McCoy, Fidel Edwards/Fabian Allen

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