West Indies conclude their overseas tour this week with three ODI matches against Pakistan, the first of which takes place in Multan on Wednesday as the two teams continue their bid to qualify for the 2023 World Cup.
That means that although we have a three match series here, we also have plenty riding on each game so this opener is one which both teams will be eager to win and set themselves up for the two matches to come.
This is the first time Pakistan have played an ODI series since Australia were in this part of the world a couple of months ago. Pakistan came from a defeat down to win that series 2-1 and will be eager to get off to a faster start here. You would imagine they will come on for the run in this series though. A number of their squad have been in England playing county cricket so they might need a match to readjust to the conditions they will be exposed to.
When Pakistan are at their best though they have a wonderful bowling attack, the majority of which are available for this series and as a result of that the home side are entitled to feel pretty dangerous here. The unknown about Pakistan always comes with the batting but with the world class talent that is Babar Azam in their top order and the likes of Mohammad Rizwan in the middle order, there is less concern over their batting than there once might have been.
The West Indies didn’t have a warm up match in Pakistan conditions ahead of this series but last week they were playing the Netherlands in an ODI series which they won 3-0, so they have some recent form in the format. Although West Indies look to have mastered the 20 over game worldwide, it has been a while since they have been properly convincing in this format and that has to be the challenge for Nicholas Pooran and his men.
If West Indies can go away to Pakistan and win it would not only give them a whole heap of confidence moving forward, but it would also show that they mean business in this format ahead of the World Cup in it next year. If West Indies are going to win this series then you would imagine they will need to bat smartly but still put up decent totals. They will then need to max out with the ball with a few key bowlers missing from the line up.
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Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali have all been playing county cricket recently but all are in the squad for this opening match and could all feature. Khushdil Shah is expected to fill a middle order role.
West Indies are without some stars that we saw at the IPL recently with Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard all missing for one reason or another, the latter being his surprise international retirement. Alzarri Joseph is expected to lead the attack while Nicholas Pooran will be the star attraction with the ball.
I’m not going to go too mad in this opening ODI. We haven’t had international cricket here since 2008 so much will have changed in that time. I suspect with three matches here in five days that we’ll see a high scoring match but I would have liked both teams to be better prepared before I would commit to that. In the end I’ll settle on one bet which comes in the form of the player performances, where Kyle Mayers is the performance of interest.
He has a line of 36.5 which feels a little on the low side. There was a match in the ODI series in the Netherlands where he opened the bowling and another where he opened the batting. In the latter which was the final game of the series he scored 120 so he arrives in this part of the world with good vibes with the bat. He has good form in Asia as it is there where he made 200 to win a Test match in Bangladesh. The left armer is quite clever with the ball though, as England found out in the Test series in the Caribbean in March and with Jason Holder missing this series I think Mayers will play a big role in the game. He’s a decent batter and competent bowler so a good game with either of those disciplines will cover this line as will an average one with both.
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