WI hunt revenge on home turf
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
Following their chastening whitewash last September, West Indies are quietly hoping to return the favour on home soil when they take on Pakistan in the four-match Twenty20 International series starting at Kensington Oval here today.
The T20 World champions looked a shadow of the side that dominated the showpiece in India just months before, as they slumped to an embarrassing 3-0 loss in the United Arab Emirates.
But even though revenge rests on their minds, captain Carlos Brathwaite said they were taking nothing for granted against a dangerous Pakistan side.
"They are very, very worthy opponents," Brathwaite told reporters yesterday.
"I think they are one of the better teams in the world as well and it is tough playing them in their backyard but we welcome them to the West Indies and we want to take home advantage as well."
He added: "I think they play a fearless brand of cricket. Sometimes you see them dismissed for 80, but on another day, they can make 180, 200, and it can be very exciting as well.
"I think one of their strengths is their rotation of strike in the middle overs. They play spin very well.
"It's about us counteracting that; not focussing on their strengths but maximising ours."
West Indies will again miss the talents of superstar opener Chris Gayle and will also have to do without the experienced all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell.
PROVEN MATCH WINNERS
However, they have at their disposal the likes of Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons, all of whom are proven match winners in the game's shortest format.
Brathwaite pointed out that even without some of their leading names, West Indies were still an extremely strong side and were backing themselves to put up big totals.
"We have strength in depth. Not having Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, and still being able to pick the team we've selected is massive for any international team," he noted.
"One thing we've always been able to boast of is power-hitters, and we have four or five one after the other and with three or four in the shed. There's a perfect mix of experience and youth as well. We have very, very young guys like ... Rovman Powell, Jason Mohammed, but then there's still elder statesmen although Pollard is only 28, he is a T20 veteran.
Last year's nightmare against Pakistan still looms large. It was not so much that the Windies lost the series, but rather, the way in which they did.
They mustered a paltry 115 in the opening game batting first and lost by nine wickets, failed to chase down 160 in the second outing and lost by 16 runs before scraping together 103 in their final game to lose by eight wickets.
Brathwaite admitted he was still unsure about what went wrong, but said he hoped the team would put things right in the upcoming series.
"[I'm] not sure. It's a multitude of factors. Obviously, when things don't go as well as you would like, everyone seems to know the problem, but in the dressing room, we are trying to find the solutions," he said.
WEST INDIES Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Samuel Badree, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.
PAKISTAN Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Ahmad Shahzad, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz , Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Rumman Raees, Usman Khan Shinwari.