Pakistan players celebrate a wicket against England © PCB

Although the start hasn’t been fruitful for Pakistan in terms of preparation, the Bismah Maroof-led side would like to start their campaign on a positive note when they face West Indies at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Wednesday (February 26). While Pakistan have lost two against the West Indies in the unofficial practice games, they surrendered in front of lowly Bangladesh in the official warm-up game by five runs.     

There were severe criticism when Pakistan announced their squad leaving out former skipper Sana Mir. But Pakistan have got away from that now and have a chance to show the world they can play a fearless and positive brand of cricket without their most experienced campaigner.

The average age of the squad is 24 and that you the story. The selectors have put faith in youngsters Ayesha Nassem, Syeda Aroob Shah, Muneeba Ali and Fatima Sana. Besides that, they have their ever-reliable captain Maroof who has amassed over 2000 runs in the T20Is.

And Pakistan are well aware of it, as seen by Nida Dar’s statement before the game: “West Indies won’t know all of our players and some of them will be a surprise package. I’m in a team of very talented players with a mix of senior and junior players.”

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Then there is Javeria Khan and Dar’s experience to rely on. On paper, Pakistan have the talent and skills to push the much-fancied teams, but how they perform on the day matters the most. For the record, Pakistan have underperformed in the T20 World Cups so far winning just six games in six editions of the mega tournament.   

Javeria has already fired shots by adding that it is about bringing the mental side to the fore rather than skills to succeed at the highest level and it’s high time for Pakistan to pull their socks up and be a force to reckon with in world cricket. And there can be no better platform than the World Cup.     

On the other hand, the 2016 champions West Indies did fumble initially but recovered well to start their campaign on a winning note against Thailand. With their top three back in the hut early, it was skipper Stefanie Taylor’s allround heroics that made sure West Indies keep a spirited Thailand at bay.

What though clicked for West Indies is their bowling. Chinelle Henry, Afy Fletcher, Anisa Mohammad and Taylor had a good outing with the ball in hand and that’s a good sign. Star allrounder Deandra Dottin was also back after a long time but she seemed a bit rusty and was not given an over to due to her problematic shoulder. Taylor had spoken about Dottin’s workload and it will be interesting to see if she is tempted to bring Dottin if one their bowlers have a poor day. 

The pitch in Canberra will be a touch slower and drier compared to one in Perth and anything around 140 will be a good total. West Indies will look to continue to build on their winning start, while a youthful Pakistan will look to put in a determined show on a Wednesday evening.

Squads:

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Cherry-Ann Fraser, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Lee-Ann Kirby, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed, Chedean Nation, Shakera Selman.

Pakistan: Bismah Maroof (c), Aiman Anwer, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Syeda Aroob Shah.

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