West Indies vs Pakistan 2nd T20I Preview: Can Pakistan's variations blunt Windies big-hitters?
The remaining three matches of the series will be played at the Providence Stadium in Guyana and better batting surfaces than the ones on offer at Kensington Oval are expected.
Effectively a 3-match series
What was supposed to be a 5-match T20 series has essentially been reduced to a three-match affair. To begin with, one match was taken off the roster due to the delay in the series between Australia and Westindies due to COVID-19.
The series opener was then washed out and the fans would desperately hope that they get all the remaining 120 overs in with an opportunity to see two of the world's top teams in action.
Pakistan's interesting choices
While the West Indies playing XI for the 1st match was along expected lines, Pakistan made some interesting choices. In the official team sheet, Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Rizwan were set to open the batting for Pakistan with captain Babar Azam dropping himself at number 3.
This appears to be a good move as there is a certain sameness to the opening combination of Rizwan and Azam despite them providing consistency. Either Sharjeel or Fakhar can do a fine job with Rizwan at the top and Babar Azam can always control the game from number 3.
Fakhar Zaman was pencilled at number 5 behind Mohammad Hafeez and this can also turn out to be a good move as Hafeez is more suited in the first half of the innings. Despite his ability to hit sixes, he is more of a touch player than a tonker.
Azam Khan was retained with Sohaib Maqsood being dropped for the series opener. This shows that the Pakistan team management is ready to give a couple more opportunities to Azam before deciding his place in the scheme of things with the T20 World Cup in mind .
It was also a brave move by Pakistan to include both Shadab Khan and Usman Qadir in their playing XI. One of the reasons for it could be that West Indies have a lot of left handers in their batting line up.
As expected, Haris Rauf has dropped in the pecking order for Pakistan and the team is now looking for a third pacer. Instead of Mohd Hasnain, an opportunity was presented to debutant Mohammad Wasim junior who impressed in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League.
Wasim showed his worth, beating lendl Simmons on a quick bouncer and then having Chris Gayle caught in the deep off a slower delivery.
Hasan Ali was the best bowler for Pakistan in the nine overs of the West Indies innings possible before rain hit. Ali conceded just 11 runs from his two overs while also dismissing Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer.
Pollard to the rescue
There was not much to write home about the West Indies batting card with Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran the only batsmen to reach double figures. There were as many as 30 dot balls and a few sixes in between. Pollard finished with 22 of 9 deliveries, smashing Shaheen Afridi for a six and a boundary in the last over.
West Indies were expected to pick Fabian Allen but they decided to go with Akeal Hosein which is an interesting choice. With Simmons having left the field with his right arm in a sling, Andre Fletcher is set to partner Evin Lewis at the top of the order in the 2nd T20I.
From Barbados to Guyana
The remaining matches of the series will be played at the Providence Stadium in Guyana and better batting surfaces than the ones on offer at Kensington Oval are expected. Kieron Pollard came down hard on the quality of the pitches after the ODI series against Australia and he will be a relieved man as the caravan moves to Guyana.
The venue has an average first innings score of 130 which comes crashing down to 87 in the second innings. But, scores in excess of 190 have been made in international T20 matches at the venue which comes as a bright spot for the home side.
Predicted playing XIs:
West Indies - Andre Fletcher, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh, Akeal Hosein
Pakistan - Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir
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