By Obaid ur Rehman.
Pakistan and West Indies are all geared up to battle each other in the deserts of United Arab Emirates for 3 T20s, 3 ODIs and 3 Test Matches. Pakistan has recently concluded its England tour pretty much on a good note where Pakistan successfully managed to draw the Test Series 2-2 that ultimately brought us to No. 1 spot in ICC Test Rankings, lost the ODI Series 4-1 and won an only T20 Match in a completely one-sided game. Overall, we rate England tour on good pages for Pakistan. Inspite of being the best Test team in the world, Pakistan is clearly lacking the cricketing techniques in White Ball format where we are on 9th and 7th positions in ODI and T20 Rankings respectively, which clearly depicts an alarming situation for Pakistan in limited overs cricket. The outdated style and of old mindset have led to the downfall of Pakistan’s Cricket in coloured uniforms.
Talking about West Indies, they are way behind in Test format but their attacking approach and aggressive playing style in limited overs cricket, particularly in T20s, have made them the heartthrobs of the format. Men in Maroon proved it right away once again when they became the only team to win an ICC World T20 for the second time in India beating England in a thriller. West Indies is a team with those players who have the ability to turn the tides in their favour in no time. They have destructive batsmen including Chris Gayle, World T20 winning captain Darren Sammy, Andre Russel, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo who can smash the ball out of the ground as hard as they can.
While contesting Pakistan in UAE, Chris Gayle and Andre Russel aren’t there in West Indian squad, but other players, in the absence of these big names, won’t ever disappoint their nation and crowd too. Their opener Evin Lewis has recently smashed a 48-ball ton against India last month, the sixth fastest century in T20s International. Their uncapped players, Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran, who hit 143 out of West Indies U19’s total of 208 at this venue two years ago at the World Cup, are also the part of West Indian squad. No doubt that these lads have the power to execute the massive cricketing showdown. Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran also overcame the top-order collapse in the warm-up game against Emirate Cricket Board Xi this Tuesday. Pace Kesrick Williams who bowled a sensational triple-wicket maiden in the last concluded Caribbean Premier League (CPL), is also in the list.
Talking about Pakistan, they don’t have enough power hitting men in a way like West Indies have. Pakistan’s T20 cricket is now led by newly appointed wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmad whose calmness and aggressive decision making abilities in the field make him a good leader. Pakistan has new faces in the team in the form of Sherjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Babar Azam and Imad Wasim who have inspired the selectors with their performance enough so that they can be replaced by some senior faces. Injured and out of form Muhammad Hafeez doesn’t look to be a part of playing eleven in green shirt in near future. Ahmad Shahzad and Umar Akmal have been kept out of the team due to disciplinary issues since the World T20 a couple of months ago. Shahid Afridi is also out of the sight due to his poor performance and captaincy throughout the last year, which became an ultimate reason for his exclusion from the national side.
Umar Akmal has now finally made selectors to consider him in the squad for the series against West Indies by showing maginficant performance in the recently held National T20 Cup where he scored 363 runs in 8 matches including a century and a couple of fifties as well, the knock of 34 runs off Yasir Arafat’s over was the one to remember. Now Umar Akmal has finally vowed to come back and ensured PCB Chairman Shehryar Khan in one-to-one meeting that the management and board won’t have any complain regarding to his disciplinary issues. It is the perfect time for the young talented lad to prove the selectors’ decision right by showing extra-ordinary performances with the bat again. Umar Akmal holds the record of highest runs scorer in T20 format for Pakistan, he has scored 1689 runs in 79 matches which is 4th highest overall.
Umar Akmal has made his come back to national side, looking forward for brilliant knocks
Sherjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have made it sure that for now, they are the most appropriate choices for opening slots in the shorter version of the game. Akmal Brothers’ cousin, Babar Azam is also among one of those young guns who have impressed the coach Mickey Arthur after England tour, and looks charged and motivated to continue his good form and fire some runs with the bat. Shoaib Malik, being one of the senior most players in the squad, is also in good touch as well. In bowling department, we have pacers like Muhammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hassan Ali whereas spin department is led by Imad Wasim and Muhammad Nawaz who have been exceptional in the recent performances in international and domestic circuits.
Overall for me, both the teams look balanced, yet West Indies have more hard hitting players but batsmen of the most unpredictable team Pakistan, have the ability to get the momentum going once they start hitting the ball. Bowling departments of both the sides seem to be equally balanced in contrary to each other. So, overall we will be having a good T20 series, tough and nail biting contests are expected way ahead. Good luck Green Lads, way to go 2009 Champs.
The writer is Islamabad based Journalist / Research Analyst and writes on Politics, Current Affairs, Social Issues and Sports. He can be reached at;