West Indies Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy is relishing a return to his side’s favoured format as they seek revenge against Pakistan tomorrow in the first of two back-to-back internationals at Arnos Vale in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The hosts suffered a 3-1 defeat in the five-match One-Day International series earlier this month but, with last year’s ICC World T20 title under their belt, they will be hoping to paint a different picture this weekend. However, West Indies all-rounder Sammy is expecting some close encounters but believes his side have the edge to prevail.
“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.”
Kemar Roach, the highly ineffective Devon Smith, as well as Jason Holder all drop out of the squad which featured in the One-Day internationals with Shannon Gabriel brought in to bolster the pace bowling stocks, while batsman Christopher Barnwell’s impressive domestic campaign earns him another call-up.
Sunil Narine looks set to start for the West Indies but conditions will dictate whether leg-spinner Samuel Badree is also included as a second spinner.
Meanwhile Pakistan have brought in all-rounder Hammad Azam and unconventional left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir. The uncapped 34-year-old Zulfiqar Babar looks set to feature alongside batsman Misbah-ul-Haq, while Asad Shafiq, wicketkeeper Mohammed Rizwan and spinner Abdur Rehman all fly home.
Sammy noted the importance of giving regional fans something to cheer about after the disappointing ODI results of the Tri-Nation Series involving Sri Lanka and India, and against Pakistan
“The last international cricket played here the Prime Minister gave a holiday so we are definitely looking forward to it. As West Indians, we always entertain the fans. Hopefully we can play competitive cricket and be on the winning side,” he said.
Fatigue was one of the factors attributed to the West Indies’ recent poor form, with several key batsmen like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo taking active part in the IPL and other leagues, without much rest between series. Gayle and Pollard in particular have been in wretched form with Pollard tallying six ducks for the season.
Lendl Simmons had a point to prove after being ignored by the regional selectors and he has done so with a vengeance. He also had the opportunity to show his skills behind the stumps after stand-in wicketkeeper Johnson Charles was ill in the final ODI in St. Lucia and he performed with great assurance. First choice keeper Denesh Ramdin’s opportunities for the West Indies in the short forms of the game seem further and further under threat.
Not too long ago, Pakistan had endured a similar slump, bowing out of the Champions Trophy without a win. Commonsense prevailed when the selectors chose not to make the captain the scapegoat and instead recalled impact players like Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal, who made vital contributions in the one-dayers. They are expected to figure over the next two days once more. Thankfully for the West Indies they will not have to deal with the thorn that Ul-Haq has become in their sides as he is not part of the Twenty20 squad.
Saturday and Sunday’s games both start at 2 p.m.
West Indies (likely) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Lendl Simmons, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Tino Best, 11 Shannon Gabriel
Pakistan (likely) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 4 Umar Akmal (wk), 5 Haris Sohail/ Hammad Azam, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sohail Tanvir, 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Junaid Khan, 10 Wahab Riaz, 11 Mohammad Irfan