The Twenty20 leg of the tour will not only see the two sides shift gears but also a change at the helm as Pakistan and West Indies clash in the first of the two-match series today in Kingston.
The tourists, pumped by a 3-1 victory in the 50-over format, will now be led by Mohammad Hafeez while Darren Sammy, who lifted the World Twenty20 trophy last year, is back as captain taking guard from Dwayne Bravo for the home side.
Interestingly, both opponents, who have a good reputation in the shortest version of the game, have met just once in Twenty20s with West Indies clinching the tie by seven runs in their 2011 home series.
However, the hosts will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing series loss in the One-Day Internationals (ODI).
The swashbuckling Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels return in the format after missing games against Zimbabwe. Despite failure in the ODI series, Gayle remains the main threat to Pakistan with his explosive batting trait. Samuels, on the other hand, peaked to form in the ODI series and will be high on confidence.
Spotlight on Hafeez
Pakistan have been doing well in Twenty20s, beating Australia in the home series in UAE, levelling with India 1-1 and winning the only game that could be played on their tour of South Africa.
They possess an impressive pace attack with Mohammad Irfan in good form, finishing as the best pacer in the ODIs with nine wickets at an average of just over 20, while Junaid Khan also proved his mettle with seven wickets in the last three games after being sidelined for the opening matches. Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi – the top wicket-takers in the last series with 10 scalps – will also pose a challenge to the West Indies firepower.
However, Pakistan will be without talismanic ODI captain Misbahul Haq, who has been anchoring the team’s struggling batting in the format. In contrast Hafeez, the Twenty20 captain has been suffering a grey patch, failing in the 50-over series by managing just 105 from five innings.
Former Pakistan Cricket Board chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said that Hafeez was due a big performance and his return to form was vital for Pakistan.
“Hafeez must return to form,” said Ahmed. “It is very important for a captain to perform and Hafeez must work hard to regain form.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.
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