Match: Pakistan v West Indies, 1st T20I
Date: 23 September, Friday
Time: 12am SGT (Saturday)/9:30pm IST/5pm BST
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium
TV Channel: In Singapore, the live coverage of the 1st T20I between Pakistan and West Indies will be on Ten Cricket.
Pakistan take on West Indies in first Twenty20 of the three-match series at the Dubai International Stadium on 23 September.
The hosts would want to revive their fortunes in the shortest format of the game in what has been a woeful year for them. Pakistan started 2016 with a 2-1 series defeat in New Zealand. The Shahid Afridi-led team struggled in the 2016 Asia Cup T20 and crashed out of the tournament after losing against arch-rivals India and hosts Bangladesh.
The Men in Green also received a lot of flak for their disappointing show at the 2016 World T20 in India. Afridi's men failed to get past the Super 10 stage after managing to win only one game out of four in the tournament.
However, Pakistan go into the series against the Caribbeans on the back of an impressive one-off T20I win against England at Manchester. Led by their newly-appointed skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan thrashed the hosts by nine wickets to end their two-month-long tour on a high.
With a calm-headed leader in Sarfraz, the seventh-ranked side has the capacity to give West Indies a run for their money. The hosts are boosted by the inclusion of Umar Akmal, who earned a recall following his good domestic run, in which he scored 304 runs in five matches of the National T20 Cup at a strike rate of 202.66. In-form openers Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif are bankable prospects at the top.
Shoaib Malik will provide the hosts with the much-needed experience in the middle order in the absence of Mohammad Hafeez, who strained his calf during the England series. Pakistan will rely on their pace battery which has big names like Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir to do the trick for them. The spin duo of Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz will be crucial on slow tracks in Dubai against the big-hitting West Indies batsmen.
On the West Indies side, the absence of injured Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, who opted out of the tour due to personal reasons, is unlikely to have a big impact due to their phenomenal bench strength. Opening batsman Evin Lewis, who smashed a 49-ball 100 in the first T20I against India in Florida in August, has the potential to cause enough damage at the top.
Skipper Carlos Brathwaite showed aggressive intent with the way he led West Indies to a 1-0 win in the two-match T20I series against India last month. A series win in the United Arab Emirates should give the team and their new leader a lot of confidence.
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Jason Holder, with their all-round abilities, are all single-handed match-winners. Also, West Indies have the edge over Pakistan in the spin department as the visitors have top-ranked Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine in their ranks.
Despite lacking enough firepower, Pakistan will have to come out all guns blazing and give themselves a good chance against the explosive West Indies unit. It will be a big test for Sarfraz but the wicketkeeper-batsman would want to prove his mettle as a leader and put up a stiff fight against the in-form opposition.
Singapore: Ten Cricket
India: Ten Cricket
Pakistan: PTV Sports
US: Willow TV
South Africa: Super Sport Two
Possible XI: Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Babar Azam, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Saad Nasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz.
Possible XI: Carlos Brathwaite (c), Evin Lewis, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Andre Fletcher (wk), Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Jerome Taylor.