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Pakistan, West Indies seek good start in tough group

Both sides are packed with plenty of talented players and will bank on them to come good together to start the tournament well

Pakistan, West Indies seek good start in tough group - Cricket News
Pakistan and West Indies go head to head at The Oval on Friday, June 7.
When you hear the word Pakistan with relation to cricket, the associations come flooding in: mercurial, unpredictable, self-destructive. While these labels stick because they’ve been proved true over the years in different forms of the game, Pakistan has bucked the trend when it comes to ICC events. Whether it’s the World Cup, the Champions Trophy or the World Twenty20, Pakistan has travelled deep into the tournament, making it at least to the semifinals of the last six global events.  

While the lead up to the event was dominated by the decision to leave out players of the calibre of Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi, all eyes will focus on Misbah-ul-Haq, the 39-year-old captain, whose constant endeavour will be to bring calm to an excitable dressing-room. Misbah has a wide variety of talents to choose from, especially in the bowling department, but he will know that stability with the bat will be needed when his team plays its first game of the tournament, against West Indies at the Oval in London on Friday (June 7).   West Indies, who is in a rebuilding phase itself, with Dwayne Bravo having taken over from Darren Sammy, comes into this event on the back of a win in the last ICC tournament, the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. While that was some way in the past, played in October 2012, there’s no shortage of current form.  

Kieron Pollard was a key component of Mumbai Indians’ successful Indian Premier League campaign, bringing each of the three facets of his game to the party when it was needed the most. With the bat, you always get the sense that Pollard is batting too low down the order, but any captain’s desire to save that kind of power hitting for a finishing role is understandable. With two white balls in play in this tournament, and clouds making an appearance often enough over the last few days to encourage swing bowling, Pollard’s languid offerings will have a major role to play in bringing balance to the West Indies XI. On the field, Pollard is a demon, and although he can drop the occasional clanger when inside the circle, little gets past him when he’s patrolling the boundary.  

Bravo also enjoyed a strong run in the IPL, but the player most keen to stamp his authority on the tournament will be Chris Gayle. While Indian supporters are treated to the best of Gayle for close to two months each year, he needs to make up for lost time as far as the West Indies is concerned, having missed out some crucial time through a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board. Although he has nothing left to prove in the game, in any format, Gayle can be the engine that powers West Indies, and the Champions Trophy is a perfect platform to express himself.  

While these players could well hold the key, West Indies’ challenge will not be how much its stars can deliver, but how well the group can play as a unit. In some sense, this puts the team in the same boat as Pakistan, whose young team has to show that the individual parts can work in harmony. With India and South Africa completing a tight Group A, each win will count in the league phase.    

Teams: (from)  

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Abdur Rehman, Asad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Imran Farhat, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Wahab Riaz.  

West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (capt), Denesh Ramdin (wk), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.

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