West Indies hunting series-levelling win today
The first T20I between West Indies and Pakistan didn’t tell us much, confirming, instead, what was already widely known: West Indies appear a long way away from their World Cup-winning best at the moment, while Pakistan, though nowhere near perfect, have slightly too much quality for the hosts.
If any team in world cricket can turn it around within three hours or so, it is Carlos Brathwaite’s men. With this being only the second T20I series that stretches beyond three games between two Test teams, West Indies still have time to make amends.
They can start by avoiding falling into the trap Pakistan set for them in the first game: the visitors built up pressure with the spinners in the Powerplay, inducing false shots from the batsmen thereafter.
The hosts might look to attack the spinners in the first six overs to force Sarfraz Ahmed to rethink his strategies. It also remains to be seen how wonder kid Shadab Khan, handles the pressure.
Pakistan, on the other hand, will look to replicate much of what they did in the first game. While their bowling performance – with the exception of Wahab Riaz – was as close to flawless as head coach Mickey Arthur could have hoped for, concerns still remain in the batting department.
It is early days yet, but there are barely any signs of Ahmed Shehzad or Kamran Akmal having managed to rid themselves of the inconsistency that has plagued their international careers so far. Still, Pakistan have won their last four T20I games against West Indies with relative ease.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Sunil Narine had a quiet first game, but he’s coming off the back of a successful PSL, even if his side didn’t make it past the group stage. He was the seventh-highest wicket-taker with an economy rate of under 6.50. However, it was his ability with the bat that surprised many. He scored 116 runs at a strike rate of 181.25, which was significantly higher than anyone else; Shahid Afridi was second with 173.52. In addition, he hit eleven sixes – as many as Pollard – during the tournament.
In spite of his relative international inexperience, Imad Wasim is rapidly establishing himself as a mainstay of Pakistan’s limited-overs side. His left-arm orthodox spin has been vital to Pakistan’s T20I success, and has bowled his full quota in all but five games. His economy of 5.67 is almost unheard of in T20 cricket. Furthermore, with Pakistan’s top order currently not at its best, Imad is likely to get more chances with the bat.
Defeat in the first T20I for West Indies wasn’t down so much to poor team selection as shambolic execution. As a result, a raft of changes would be a surprise.
West Indies (probable): 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Chadwick Walton (wk), 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Jason Mohammed/Rovman Powell, 7 Carlos Brathwaite (capt), 8 Jason Holder, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Samuel Badree, 11 Jerome Taylor.
Should any change occur in Pakistan’s ranks, it will occur in their top order. However, Pakistan are likely to keep their winning combination intact.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Kamran Akmal, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Wahab Riaz (ESPNCricinfo)