The availability of Gayle, Russell, Bravo and Pollard makes the hosts a terrifying proposition on paper
West Indies’ extended warm-up for the T20 World Cup continues apace, with Pakistan the latest side the defending champions will host ahead of the global event later this year. While there might be legitimate concern around how relevant T20 cricket in the Caribbean is to a T20 World Cup on the other side of the planet in the UAE, you can’t really argue West Indies will go into it undercooked.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LWLLL
In the spotlight
In 12 T20Is this year he averages under 18 with a strike rate of 120.88, down from a career figure of 140.16. If he’s looking to play himself in, he doesn’t do much of that either; just two of these 12 innings have seen him cross 21. The PSL is the league he’s struggled in more than any other, so it isn’t like Pakistan’s bowlers don’t know how to keep Gayle quiet either. Expect an engaging battle.
It isn’t just style, though; there’s substance to go with it. He missed the first two T20Is against England, but played crucial parts with both bat and ball in the thriller at Old Trafford. His nascent rise as perhaps Pakistan’s most valuable power hitter down the order is perfectly timed, coming as it does ahead of a series in the nation that has revolutionised the power game in the shortest format.
Kieron Pollard is slated to captain West Indies, but did not play the T20Is against Australia, with Pooran standing in.
West Indies (possible): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Kieron Pollard (capt)/Fabian Allen, 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Hayden Walsh, 10 Obed McCoy, 11 Fidel Edwards.
Misbah-ul-Haq admitted after the England series Pakistan weren’t making much headway in working out how to resolve their middle-order issues. That, arguably, is what series like these are for, so expect some tinkering over the next few games.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Sohaib Maqsood, 5 Mohammad Hafeez/Sharjeel Khan, 6 Azam Khan, 7 Shadab Khan/Usman Qadir, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Mohammad Hasnain, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi
Pitch and conditions
Showers are expected for the late morning in Barbados, around the time the game starts. A shortened contest likely benefits the big-hitting West Indies, but there are enough dry spells tomorrow to perhaps get a full contest in.
The Kensington Oval isn’t the highest-scoring T20I ground, but with no T20I played here for four years, predicting how the pitch might turn out is something of a fool’s errand.
Stats and trivia
- This will be just the fourth four-match T20I series between two Full Member nations. One of the others also involved these two sides, when Pakistan beat West Indies 3-1 in 2017. The most recent such series took place in April, when Pakistan triumphed 3-1 in South Africa.
- The last T20I in Barbados took place in 2017. It was also a West Indies-Pakistan game, a low-scoring contest with Pakistan chasing 113 and winning by six wickets.
“All those bad mistakes we committed in England, we don’t want to repeat them. We discussed them and we are taking forward all the learning curves. Batting and bowling is one thing but we are putting extra, a lot of time into fielding in practice. This is an important series in a way that we will check out different combinations and check our bench strength.”
Pakistan captain Babar Azam
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000