Match: Pakistan v West Indies, 1st ODI
Date: 30 September, Friday
Time: 7pm SGT/4:30pm IST/12pm BST
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
TV Channel: In Singapore, the live coverage of the 1st ODI between Pakistan and West Indies will be on Ten Cricket.
Pakistan take on West Indies in the first One Day International of the three-match series on 30 September at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The hosts, who crushed the defending World Twenty20 champions 3-0 in the T20 series would want to open their account in the 50-over format well. Azhar Ali replaces Sarfraz Ahmed as the captain of the side for the upcoming three matches.
Given the 100% record of Sarfraz as captain in the shortest format of the game since he took charge of the team in the one-off T20I in Manchester earlier this month, Ali will be under pressure to deliver. The 31-year-old faced flak after Pakistan slumped to a 4-1 loss in the ODI series against England in August.
Since being appointed as the captain of the ODI side, Ali has been able to lead the side to victories against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka but lost against Bangladesh, England and New Zealand. In 2016, Pakistan managed to win only two games out of the nine completed games they played.
Ali, the batsman, will also be scrutinised as he has scored only 231 runs from eight ODIs this year at a paltry average of 28.87. It will be important for the right-hander to carry forward the good work done in the shortest format by Pakistan as 2019 Cricket World Cup berth is at stake for the ninth-ranked ODI team.
A 3-0 win in the ODI series will make sure Pakistan leapfrog West Indies to become the eighth-ranked team. The top eight teams on the cut-off date (30 September, 2017) will earn a direct entry to the quadrennial event while the rest will play a qualifying tournament.
Pakistan will be boosted by the inclusion of Azad Shafiq and Umar Akmal in the ODI squad. Along with Sarfraz, the two batsmen will provide the much-required batting depth to the side in the absence of Mohammad Hafeez.
Left-arm spinners Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz are automatic choices for the first ODI, which means leg-spinner Yasir Shah will have to wait for his chance. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir will handle the pace bowling department in Sharjah on Friday.
On the other hand, the visitors would want to come up with a better show in the ODIs. Jason Holder, who was with the squad for the T20 series, will take charge of the team.
However, West Indies, whose highest score in the T20I series was 144, are likely to struggle again on the slow surfaces in the United Arab Emirates. Opening batsman Elvin Lewis, who found it hard to get going after his maiden T20 ton against India in Florida last month, will be under scrutiny as Jonathan Carter might be preferred as the first-choice batsman to pair up with Johnson Charles at the top.
The return of Darren Bravo will give the visitors some solidity to the top order. West Indies must realise the importance of not getting bogged down on slow surfaces and the presence Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin in the middle order should give them some comfort.
Pace bowler Shannon Gabriel was impressive in the Test series against India at home and would be looking to seal his place in the ODI line-up. Sunil Narine and Suliman Benn are the likely spin bowlers for West Indies in the first ODI.
It will be important for West Indies to show some intent and begin the series well. Their batsmen will have to put in the extra effort and must refrain from playing loose shots. Pakistan will have upper-hand going into the series but the Holder-led side must keep in mind the vulnerability of the hosts in the 50-over format.
Singapore: Ten Cricket
India: Ten 3
Pakistan: PTV Sports
US: Willow TV
South Africa: Super Sport Five
Possible XI: Azhar Ali (c), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir
Possible XI: Jason Holder (c), Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Shannon Gabriel, Sulieman Benn