Daijiworld Media Network
Kingstown, Jul 27: Hello and welcome to the first T20I between West Indies and Pakistan. After a thrilling finish to the ODI series in St Lucia, we now move to Kingston for this 2-match series. West Indies are the reigning T20 champions and Pakistan will have to do really well to beat them in their own backyard. They have been doing pretty well in recent times and have not lost their last four bilateral series. West Indies too have been quite outstanding in the shortest format. They have won 6 consecutive matches and that is enough evidence that this series is going to be really thrilling. It will be interesting to see the playing XIs of both the sides.
West Indies have won the toss and elected to bat.
Hafeez: 'I think this is a good wicket for T20. The ball will come onto the bat very well. We did well in the ODIs and we are looking forward to take the momentum into the T20 series as well. Two debutants are in the side for us today.'
Sammy: 'We will bat first. It looks like a dry wicket. We have Narine and Badree, they our most economical bowlers. They have a good side as well. We have to come out and do well. Gabriel comes in, Darren Bravo misses out.'
Pakistan (Playing XI): Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez(c), Umar Amin, Umar Akmal(w), Shahid Afridi, Hammad Azam, Zulfiqar Babar, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan
West Indies (Playing XI): Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles(w), Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy(c), Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Tino Best, Shannon Gabriel
Pitch: The surface is dry and there are a few cracks on it. It should assist the spinners. The bounce is not going to be that great. But the batsmen should be able to score freely if they get their eyes in.
Preview by Gokul Gopal
West Indies will be hoping to avenge their ODI series loss when they take on Pakistan in the 2-match T20I series starting at Kingstown, St Vincent on Saturday. The hosts, who lost the five-match ODI series 1-3 under Dwayne Bravo, will be hoping for a turnaround of fortunes under T20 skipper Darren Sammy. Pakistan, meanwhile, will be hoping that Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez continues the good work done by Misbah-ul-Haq as they look to get the better of the T20I champions.
Curiously, these two sides have met only once in Twenty20 Internationals so far - on Pakistan's last visit to the Caribbean in 2011, West Indies held on for a seven-run win at the Beausejour Stadium. The weekend fixtures therefore provide a chance to redress that deficiency on a stage where both teams are blessed with players cut-out for the shortest format.
West Indies: Inconsistency has been the problem for West Indies, as was evident in their recent performances. Barring the series against Zimbabwe, the Caribbean side's showing in the recent times has been disappointing. Having failed to qualify for the semi-final stage of the Champions Trophy, the Windies faltered in the tri-series involving India and Sri Lanka before being humbled by Pakistan. They now have a chance to salvage some pride in a format West Indies are quite good at, having not lost a single T20I since winning last year's T20 World Cup.
Watch out for: Chris Gayle has not quite been at his best and was forced to move down the order in the last two ODIs owing to poor form. The big hitting Kieron Pollard too was struggling for runs and had to be left out for the last couple of games. These are capable of winning matches on their own and have shown their prowess with the bat in the past. They will be hoping that they can make in impact in this T20I series.
Who's in and who's out: From the team that contested in the ODI series, Kemar Roach, Devon Smith and Jason Holder move out while the inclusion of Shannon Gabriel and Samuel Badree will boost the home team. Also included in the squad is Christopher Barnwell, whose impressive domestic T20 form augers well for the West Indian side.
Pakistan: Since winning the T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka in England in 2009, Pakistan's form in the shortest format has been up and down, as the sub-continental team has flattered to deceive on many occasions. Like West Indies, they too had a poor run in ODIs recently before they managed to turn things around impressively. They will be hoping that they can extend their recent ODI success to the T20 games and look to topple India from the third position in the T20I rankings, which they can do so if they win the series 2-0.
Watch out for: Umar Akmal, having been recalled to the Pakistan set-up as a wicketkeeper-batsman, has had an impressive run in the ODI series. Umar made his selection count with fine knocks in the One-Dayers, complementing Misbah's anchored presence with his aggressive style of batting, as he played a key role in Pakistan's series win. The talented youngster, who is one of the important members in the batting department, will be hoping he continues in the same vein in the T20I series.
Who's in and who's out: Left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir brings with him a lot of T20I experience while all-rounder Hammad Azam and all-rounder Zulfiqar Babar are also part of the Pakistan T20I set-up, replacing Mishab-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan and Abdur Rehman.
6: The number of Twenty20 Internationals that West Indies have won in a row. They need two more victories in succession to join England as the the team with most consecutive victories in the T20I format.
7: The number of runs Chris Gayle requires to reach the mark of 1000 runs in T20I cricket. In case he gets the required runs, the left-hander will become the 9th player overall and the first West Indian to reach the mark.
The teams are evenly matched, the difference is somebody like Misbah (ul-Haq) batted throughout the innings in most of the games that they won. I'm looking forward to the two T20s, this is the format I think we're best at and we have to go out there in St Vincent and show why we are T20 champions: Darren Sammy