Two-match T20I series will conclude Pakistan’s tour and act as curtain raiser for Caribbean Premier League
Two unfamiliar foes with impressive pedigrees in cricket's shortest format meet as Pakistan concludes its short tour of the West Indies with two Twenty20 Internationals in St Vincent on Saturday (July 27) and Sunday (July 28).
Brimming with confidence following a 3-1 triumph in the five-match One-Day International series which concluded on Wednesday in neighbouring St Lucia, Pakistan will nevertheless be wary of taking on West Indies who has been unbeaten in the format since lifting the World Twenty20 title in October 2012 in Sri Lanka.
Curiously, there has been only one previous meeting between the two teams in the T20I format, on Pakistan's last visit to the Caribbean in 2011 when West Indies held on for a seven-run victory at the Beausejour Stadium in Gros Islet.
The weekend fixtures therefore represent an opportunity to redress that deficiency on a stage where both teams are blessed with players who appear to revel in the sport's newest incarnation.
For all their struggles in ODIs in the past month, Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard will be expected to return to their destructive best with the bat in the manner that has made them among the most sought-after players for the many T20 competitions now played around the world. Pakistan, with Mohammad Hafeez at the helm, also has a stage to showcase its match-winning talents to any interested franchises while at the same time seeking to reinforce the country's impressive reputation in the 20-over-per-side variety.
Winner of the World Twenty20 in 2009 in England, Pakistan was runners-up to India in the inaugural event in South Africa two years earlier and reached the semifinal as defending champion in the West Indies in 2010.
Pakistan has brought in three T20 specialists - Hammad Azam, Sohail Tanvir and Zulfiqar Babar - to complement the likes of Shahid Afridi.
West Indies, with Darren Sammy back as captain, has also drafted in a trio with skills specifically suited to T20 cricket in Samuel Badree, Shannon Gabriel and Christopher Barnwell.
Coming as they do on the eve of the inaugural Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament, the weekend showdowns at Arnos Vale are therefore an ideal curtain-raiser for that event while also offering Pakistan the chance to conclude what has already been a successful campaign by stealing the thunder from the world champions in their own backyard.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles (wk), Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Christopher Barnwell, Sunil Narine, Tino Best, Samuel Badree, Shannon Gabriel.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Ahmed Shahzad, Nasir Jamshed, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal (wk), Haris Sohail, Hammad Azam, Sohail Tanveer, Wahab Riaz, Asad Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Umar Amin, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar.