London: It will be a battle between two highly unpredictable teams on Friday as Pakistan take on West Indies at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge.
Pakistan are out to prove they are as strong as they were during the ICC Champions Trophy they won here in 2017, while the West Indies are determined to announce their comeback on the ODI stage with the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell back in the side.
Pakistan are not happy with their World Cup preparations as they crashed to neighbours Afghanistan in their first warm-up game, and their second one against Bangladesh got washed out.
Nottingham is expected to be cloudy, so the question will be as to who would be able to better exploit the conditions there to their favour. With pacers such as Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, Pakistan can be dangerous in overcast conditions. On the other hand, however dangerous the Pakistan bowlers may seem, West Indies have the likes of Gayle and others who can hit them out of trouble.
Pakistan are conscious that their bowling attack will have to be accurate and dominating. There is the pressure on them of having lost their last 10 ODI matches. Nottingham is known to be a batting-friendly wicket, and in case the Pakistan pacers don’t strike, then their spinners will have to step up, especially Shadab Khan. Pakistan’s three batsmen in their twenties, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Ima-ul-Haq must rise to the challenge and post a good score to put pressure on West Indies.
The West Indies will be playing Pakistan with nothing to lose but everything to gain. They piled up a massive 421 against New Zealand in their warm- up match. The recent form of Jason Holder, Russell and Shai Hope gives them the confidence. But Pakistan will surely take confidence from the fact that they have won five out of their last six meetings against West Indies.
However, skipper Holder believes that if his team performs like a professional squad then nothing would be difficult. “We just want to be as professional as we possibly can and not take anything for granted,” he said. “Right now we just want to assess who we’re playing against, formulate our plans, and look to execute them effectively.”
Former England all-rounder Kevin Pietersen claims West Indies can create shocks in the tournament. When asked about that remark, Holder said: “One thing I like coming into this tournament is that every player is in a good frame of mind. Everyone is playing with a smile on his face, and I think that’s how we play our best cricket. We’re fearless, we enjoy what we’re doing and we enjoy one another’s company. I can safely say within the group we’ve got that. We’ve got an atmosphere that we would like to create, and we’ve got the energy going into this tournament that we would want to have. I think the rest is left down to us on the field. We’ve just got to execute whatever plans we formulate, and I know execution is key in this tournament. Whether it’s West Indies, England, India or whoever, I think the teams that execute their plans and be as disciplined as they can more often than not are going to come out on top.”