West Indies vs Pakistan 3rd T20I Preview: Closely-matched sides have little to separate them
Despite West Indies having some fitness concerns, there is not a lot between the two sides and if rain stays away, a cracking series is on the cards.
Close contest on the cards
The spectators want no more rain in the series. The first T20I was washed out and the second one was also affected due to rain, which many believe disrupted Pakistan's momentum.
Both teams have little to separate them and the remaining two matches should be closely-fought affairs.
West Indies' long list of injuries
West Indies have been troubled by a lot of injuries and this is what happens when you play back-to-back series. Fidel Edwards and Obed McCoy are already not at their full fitness with Fabian Allen having suffered a shoulder injury in the beginning of the season. Lendl Simmons was ruled out of the second T20I after he suffered a blow on his neck in the series opener.
Andre Russell did not find a place in the West Indies playing XI and who knows, he might be carrying a niggle or two as well. Evin Lewis was also retired hurt in the 2nd T20I and is unlikely to make it to the playing XI for this match with the turnaround of less than 24 hours.
Andre Fletcher, who was given a chance in place of Simmons, could not impress and managed a duck in the 2nd T20Is. But, he is expected to keep his spot. It appears that Chris Gayle will have to be promoted in the batting order to open.
With the spate of injuries that West Indies have suffered, either Andre Russell or Fabian Allen will come into the Windies playing XI with the hosts without any other fit specialist batsman in the squad unless of course they add someone.
One has to understand that the surfaces in the West Indies are not where 200 is just about par. There is something in it for the bowlers as well and hence scores of 160 or 170 are match winning totals.
Pakistan got off to a great start in the 2nd T20I and were well placed at 113/1 after the end of 14 overs. However, the rain break disturbed their momentum.
With Pakistan having experimented with their batting lineup, Sharjeel Khan opened the batting for them with Mohammad Rizwan in the 2nd T20I. Sharjeel was dismissed just when he was looking to get on with it, managing just 20 off 16 balls.
Mohammad Rizwan continued his golden run and was unfortunate to be run out on 46 off 36 balls. Babar Azam contributed well with 51 off 44 balls at a strike rate of over 125.
In an attempt to up the ante, Pakistan's middle order could not contribute much. Jason Holder got some cheap wickets after the rain break, finishing with figures of 4-0-26-4. Dwayne Bravo was consistent as always and bagged 2 scalps from his 4 overs.
Pakistan squeeze WI batters
Pakistan put a squeeze on the West Indies batsmen. Mohammad Hafeez in particular bowled the first over and dismissed Fletcher for a duck. He carried on exceptionally well and conceded just 6 runs from his 4 overs. Shadab Khan was also quite economical, going at an economy rate of 5.50.
West Indies decided to take it deep but ultimately left a bit too much for the slog overs. With 20 needed off the final over, despite Nicholas Pooran's blitz, Kieron Pollard's wicket cost them the match.
Pakistan should continue with the same XI. They gave Usman Qadir just one over which is understandable, given that it was a tight chase and Hafeez stepped up to the plate, but dropping Qadir will be unfair to him. With Azam Khan already unfit, there isn't a lot that Pakistan can change anyway.
Predicted playing XIs:
West Indies - Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen/Andre Russell, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh, Akeal Hosein
Pakistan - Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Sohaib Maqsood, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir
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