London: Former champions West Indies will lock horns with the incredibly unpredictable Pakistan in what promises to be a high-voltage group B Champions Trophy clash at the Oval on Friday. On the bowling front, the outfit has quite a few tricksters in the line-up, including the surprise package of pacer Jason Holder. (JPN/Agencies)
The Caribbean team, which won the title in 2004 besides finishing runners-up in 1998 and 2006, is high on star power with the intimidating presence of an in-form Chris Gayle being a massive confidence-booster.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is a team full of greenhorns despite being led by the oldest player in the event – a 39-year-old Misbah-ul-Haq.
A look at the line-ups would make the West Indies slight favourites for tomorrow's match. Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Kemar Roach have the ability to just knock out the opposition attack with their power-hitting.
In fact, the troika of Gayle, Pollard and Samuels displayed good form at the recent IPL and would be looking to carry the confidence into the Champions Trophy even though the format would be different. Skipper and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is another player who can be a match-winner on his day.
Gayle's aggregate of 695 in Champions Trophy matches is the highest among all batsmen.
The youngest in the team is 6'8" tall and could prove to be a decisive factor in the seaming conditions with his medium pace.
Among the slower bowlers, Sunil Narine has been a proven performer and would be expected to work his magic here after a stupendous IPL performance.
The Caribbeans were, however, handed a sound thrashing by the Australians in their most recent ODI assignment at the beginning of the year and it remains to be seen whether they can regroup.
Interestingly, the West Indians have the record of most number of matches won in the Champions Trophy, having registered 12 victories.
Pakistan, in contrast, have no big match-winners to boast of after the ouster of senior players such as Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan. Their pace spearhead Umar Gul was ruled out due to injury.
But if any team is capable of doing exactly what is not expected of it, it is Pakistan. Misbah's men are considered mercurial and temperamental but talented and passionate nonetheless.
It remains to be seen which bunch turns up at the Oval tomorrow to match the West Indian flair.
On the batting front, the Pakistanis would look for good starts from the experienced Mohammed Hafeez.
In the absence of Afridi, Kamran Akmal would be expected to perform the pinch-hitter's role lower down with Misbah and Shoaib Malik being the backbone of a fragile middle-order.
Their bowling attack, however, looks interesting with three left-arm pacers, including the 7'1" tall Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz. The two right-armers are Asad Ali and Ehsan Adil.
The Teams (from):
The West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (c), Denesh Ramdin, 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.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, M. Irfan, Asad Ali, Wahab Riaz, Umer Amin, Abdul Rehman, Ehsan Adil.
London: Former champions West Indies will lock horns with the incredibly unpredictable Pakistan in what promises to be a high-voltage group B Champions Trophy clash at the Oval on Friday.
On the bowling front, the outfit has quite a few tricksters in the line-up, including the surprise package of pacer Jason Holder.