The two most unpredictable teams of this World Cup, Pakistan and West Indies will lock horns on Friday. They are the dark horses of this World Cup. None of them is considered as favorites but on their day they can beat any team and ruin their chances to reach the top 4 in the points table.
There was a time when playing against the West Indies was a formality to be on the losing side. They won the first two World Cup without any fuss but in 1983, India clinched the victory from the jaw of defeat despite being bowled out for just 183 in the finals against West Indies.
Since then, West Indies couldn’t live up to the expectations of their fans. They haven’t reached the World Cup finals since 1983 and the last time they reached a semi-final of a World Cup was in 1996. They had to play in World Cup qualifiers to qualify for this World Cup and is the last team to qualify.
The current side is doing well of late. T20 champions Gayle and Russell have been included in the squad. Gayle was quite destructive against England in the last ODI series. Russell was brutal in IPL but their main hope is Shai Hope. This little man is in tremendous form. He has scored 170, 109, 30, 87, 74, 21 and 101 in the last 7 innings for West Indies.
Their bowling isn’t as good as their batting but West Indies bat pretty much all the way to number 08 – it’s a line-up that takes the pressure off their bowlers. Their bowling, as usual, depends a lot on their pace attack.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has always been the most unpredictable team of any format.
They won the World Cup in 1992 after losing 3 out of 5 matches (with one being washed out) in the first phase of the tournament. It is the team that can win against the best team of the tournament and loses against the lowest ranked team.
Even though they lost to Afghanistan in the warm-up game, Pakistan unexpectedly doing well in batting. They scored 300 and more runs in three consecutive innings. A consistent Baba Azam, double centurion Fakar Zaman, and Inzi’s nephew Imam-ul-Haq are the backbone of this batting line up.
Pakistan has a serious pace attack which can destroy the best batting line-up on their day just like they did in Champions Trophy final against India in 2017. The problem is they are not consistent, and if they don’t do well, Pakistan has no chance to secure a place in the top 4.
All-rounders Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez give stability with both bat and ball and their experience should help Pakistan to win matches in crunch situations.
Latest: Pakistan has announced a 12 man squad for the match against West Indies. Shoaib Malick, Mohammad Hasnain, and Shaheen Afridi are benched.
Players to watch out
Chris Gayle, on his day he can destroy any bowling attack. He is ruthless and has hit 37 sixes in World Cup history, a record. He is in great form for West Indies and his recent 5 scores are as follows – 73, 135, 50, 162, 77. West Indies surely expecting a high score from him.
Pakistan’s batting a lot depends on his form, he is the most consistent batsman of his side. He has scored a ton in the warm-up match against Afghanistan. Pakistanis believe that he is better than India’s Virat Kohli. So all eyes would be on him.
Pakistan v West Indies in ODIs
Overall: Matches 133, Pakistan Won 60, West Indies Won 70, Tied 3
World Cup: Matches 10, Pakistan Won 3, West Indies Won 7
Recent Form (most recent first): Pakistan L L L L NR, West Indies L L W L W
ICC Rankings: Pakistan (6), South Africa (8)
Azhar Ali has scored 1,845 runs and needs another 155 runs to reach the 2,000 runs milestone.
Andre Russell has scored 998 runs and needs 2 more to reach the 1,000 runs milestone, and also the 1,000 runs/50 wickets milestone.
Shoaib Malik has taken 96 catches and needs 4 more to reach the 100 catches milestone.
Chris Gayle has scored 944 runs in World Cup and needs 56 more to reach the 1,000 runs milestone. He will become only the second West Indian to reach 1,000 runs in the World Cup.
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain & wicket-keeper), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wicket-keeper), Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran (wicket-keeper), Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.