Windies get a head start in UAE series against Pakistan

The two sides are scheduled to play three T20Is, ODIs and Tests in the emirates

Gulf News

Dubai: West Indies underwent their first training session in Dubai on Friday after having arrived in the UAE well ahead of their much-anticipated cricket series against Pakistan.

The Windies have taken a special liking to the ICC Cricket Academy facility at the Dubai Sports City which they have booked to get acclimatised to the conditions a week before the series takes off on September 23.

They begin their campaign with a warm-up game against Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) XI at the ICC Cricket Academy on September 20 before they play three T20 Internationals (two in Dubai, one in Abu Dhabi), three One Day Internationals (two in Sharjah and one in Abu Dhabi) and the same number of Tests (one each in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah), which also include the first-ever day-night Test using the Pink ball at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

They are also scheduled to play warm-up games against ECB XI, between the second and third ODI, and against Pakistan Cricket Board Patron’s XI, before the start of the Test series on October 17.

“It’s always enjoyable to use the fantastic facilities here. The players enjoy spending quality time getting used to the conditions,” said West Indies media manager Philip Spooner.

The players and the coaching staff stayed away from the media on the opening day of their training and went through their paces for nearly three hours.

Meanwhile, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) on Wednesday sprang a surprise when they sacked their coach, Phil Simmons, and handed team manager Joel Garner charge of the team for the UAE tour.

“We are the world champions and the aim for the team is to win and keep the momentum going,” added Spooner.

“We used the facilities before departing to the World Twenty20 in India and we had great success there, so we are hoping this time the team will benefit from the early training sessions.”

The West Indies have opted for an additional spinner with the inclusion of Ashley Nurse for the tour.

“We have two good spinners who top the rankings — Samuel Badree (T20I) and Sunil Narine (ODI) — and that should say a lot about the team,” Spooner said.

Maqbul Dudhia, general manager of Dubai Sports City, said: “We are very pleased that the T20 World Cup champions have decided to come in early and take advantage of our top-class facilities here at the ICC Academy.

“The West Indies came earlier this year ahead of their World Cup-winning campaign at the World T20 India 2016, and it proved to have been a useful stint. The West Indies are familiar with our academy having used it on several occasions, and they will have full access to all our various training areas and equipment during their time here in the UAE.”

The Pakistan team is scheduled to arrive in the UAE on Sunday.

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India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the wicket of New Zealand's Mitchell Santner during the fifth day of the first cricket Test match between India and New Zealand at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur on September 26, 2016. AFP