Jul 14, 2013 Sports
By Sean Devers
From the size of the crowd for the Guyana/ Pakistan match at Bourda last Thursday, indications are every stand at today’s ODI at the Guyana National Stadium will be filled to capacity as the West Indies oppose Pakistan from 09:30hrs today in the first ODI in Guyana since Pakistan lost to the West Indies by 10-wickets on Indian Arrival Day two years ago.
Scattered thunderstorms are forecast for today, but the pouring rain did
not deter patrons from joining the line at the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Office at Bourda yesterday to buy tickets, which were almost completely sold out for the first match.
“It will have to rain all day tomorrow (today) for there to be no play at Providence and despite a power outage which stalled the process this morning (yesterday), ticket sales for both days are going well,” GCB President Dru Bahadur informed.
West Indies have won 13 and lost 15 of the 29 ODIs in the West Indies against Pakistan, while they have won three and lost three of the six ODIs at Providence since their crushing 113-run defeat against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup.
Pakistan have enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the region and have won their last two ODI series here. They have not lost an ODI series in the West Indies since 1988.
Today a lot will depend on pugnacious opener Chris Gayle. Gayle is set to play his 250th ODI and has scored 21 tons at this level. The 33-year-old Jamaican is regarded as the most dangerous limited overs batsman in world cricket and his wicket could play a key role in the outcome of the contest.
Johnson Charles will also want to set a solid foundation for the Windies on what should be a slow track with some help for the spinners and, if the rain stays away, a lush green and fast outfield.
Lendl Simmons, who scored an unbeaten 77 when these two teams last clashed in Guyana, could also play an important role with the bat for the home team.
Skipper Dwayne Bravo returns to the team after his ban while Darren Bravo, out of form Marlon Samuels and former Captain Darren Sammy are all capable of offering competent batting support if they get their shot selection right.
Kieron Pollard has five ducks this year in ODIs but on his day he could destroy the best of attacks with brute power. Failures here though could see him being replaced for the St Lucia leg of the series with someone like Narsingh Deonarine, who also provides a spinning option.
Sri Lanka’s 303-5 is the only 275 plus total at Providence in 11 ODIs and Pakistan were bowled out for 139 the last time they were here with Mohammed Hafeez, who will play for the Guyana Franchise in the CPL, making 55.
The injured Ravi Rampaul took 4-45 on that occasion while Sammy grabbed 3-30 but as Skipper Bravo pointed out, that match was over 25 months ago and the probability of Pakistan being dismissed for a sub 150 total again is small.
Sunil Narine, also a member of the Guyana Franchise in the CPL, should enjoy the conditions at Providence in his first International outing at the venue and should get support from Kemar Roach, Tino Best, Jason Holder, Sammy and Dwayne Bravo.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Hafeez are expected be among the runs, while openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad had a 62-run start against Guyana in the warm-up match.
Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal and the exciting but inconsistent Shahid Afridi, who returns to the team are also capable of entertaining batting while Pakistan’s bowling could be spearheaded by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal who captured 5-39 against Guyana last week.
Hafeez and Afridi could provide spin support to Ajmal but even on the flat surface the visitors should play all three their left-arm fast bowlers.
Pakistan are much like the West Indies, hot or cold but rarely warm. The team that plays the more consistent cricket today should emerge on top in a game that could be decided on the Duckworth/Lewis system in the event of rain since unlike the in the tri-nation series, there is no reserve day for the matches.
West Indies Squad for first two ODIs: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith
Pakistan ODI squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Ali, Umar Amin, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdur Rehman, Haris Sohail.
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