September 27, 2016
Start time 2000 local (1600 GMT)
Bereft of confidence and 0-4 down, not much was happening for Pakistan’s limited-overs squad in their ODI series against England last month. But, as is the case in sport, one moment of clear thinking can help a team turn in around. Pakistan achieved that through a partnership between their best limited-overs batsmen, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed, in a demanding chase of 303in Cardiff. Three convincing T20 wins followed, and now, Pakistan have an atypical sense of belief in their own game, and camaraderie under newly-appointed captain Sarfraz has hit a new level. Although this series is done, Pakistan are still striving to find the glue that can hold it all together: consistency.
Pakistan’s series win against West Indies has been built around the same modus operandi they’ve used for decades – bat to par and bowl well above that. Reducing the world champions to 48 for 8and 89 for 7 in the first two T20s showed their discipline with the ball. A youthful side has also shown the ability to save runs on the field. But, how will Pakistan’s new-look outfit hold their own under the duress that this format often brings?
As teams master the T20 format, they also sometimes deem a “bad day” acceptable. West Indies’ batsmen suffered two in succession, which has cost the team the series; their six-hitters have hit the wall when unable to find the boundary. “West Indies are known to be a boundary-hitting side. But it’s up to us to find a way around that,” batting coach Toby Radford said after the second T20. If they don’t, a whitewash may be inevitable.
Pakistan WWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LLWWW
In the spotlight
Shoaib Malik has been one of Pakistan’s most consistent T20 performers. In his last 16 T20I innings, Malik has failed to register a double-digit score just once. Malik’s experience and fielding prowess have also helped Pakistan in their dramatic limited-overs revival.
West Indies’ middle order, which includes Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Carlos Brathwaite, is arguably the best in the world. Bravo resurrected West Indies’ innings in the first T20 with a 54-ball 55. But for them to be at their destructive best, West Indies’ top order has to set a base from where the middle order can attack effectively.
Pakistan have no reason to change their winning combination with a whitewash in sight.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Sharjeel Khan, 2 Khalid Latif, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Sohail Tanvir, 11 Hasan Ali
With the series gone, West Indies may hand Rovman Powell a debut, bringing him in for Nicholas Pooran, who has scores of 5 and 4 in his first two T20Is. West Indies may also rejig their misfiring top order.
West Indies (probable): 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Andre Fletcher (wk), 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Carlos Brathwaite (capt), 8 Rovman Powell/Nicholas Pooran, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Samuel Badree, 11 Jerome Taylor
Pitch and conditions
Abu Dhabi, with its larger dimensions, will provide a different challenge to the batsmen. Pakistan’s batsmen scampered through for plenty of twos in the smaller Dubai outfield, which could continue. West Indies’ six-hitting ability and adaptability will be tested. The nature of the pitch is unlikely to be too dissimilar from the first two T20Is.
Stats and trivia
- Before this series, Pakistan had never won more than one match in a three-match T20I series
- Pakistan’s left-arm bowlers have taken 14 wickets this series, the joint most for any team in a bilateral T20I series
- Pakistan have won only one of the four T20Is they have played in Abu Dhabi