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.
A slightly below-par series in Grenada saw South Africa give the home side a bloody nose and walk away with the trophy, but Nicholas Pooran’s men bounced back strongly in St Lucia to hammer Australia 4-1 and get themselves back on track. Part of the excitement around West Indies stems from the return of most of their key players that have, for one reason or another, been unavailable to them for the large parts of the previous decade. With Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard all back in the maroon, West Indies are perhaps the most intimidating side on paper, and will be the most closely watched.
Certainly more so than Pakistan, who fly to Barbados off the back of a 2-1 series reverse in England. It’s a measure of how much expectations have been managed in Pakistan that that result was viewed as something of an over-performance, so heavily unfancied was Babar Azam’s side against England. Things don’t get much easier, though, even if Pakistan have a perfect series record against West Indies, because the side they face bears little resemblance, both in personnel and intensity, to the one they beat on these shores in 2017.
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.
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
First T-20 set for Kensington Oval in Barbados –Wednesday 28th July-starting at 10 am