West Indies and Pakistan go head to head in Dhaka today in a clash that I’m sure a lot of us are really looking forward to. As we know, it’s an effective quarterfinal with the winner going on to seal the runner up spot in the group. But the other reason it makes for an intriguing encounter is we have yet to see the best of both teams in my opinion.
What’s been notable is that they’ve each struggled in different departments. The West Indies will surely be pumped from their dramatic win over Australia, but their bowling hasn’t really fired in the tournament so far. They’ve been largely dependent on their batting, although spinners, Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine have left a good impression.
Pakistan, on the other hand, appear to have a fragile batting lineup. They may have got a couple of 190-odd totals but a closer look will tell you that Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal have been the only notable performers. That’s something I’d be looking at if I was in the West Indies dressing room.
It may therefore be worth a shot for skipper Darren Sammy to consider opting against the popular trend in this tournament of fielding first due to the dew factor in the second half of the game. The key for the current champions could well lie in their batsmen putting up a healthy total followed by their bowlers making early inroads at the top of the innings.
If the Windies bowlers can manage that, it would leave Pakistan’s shaky middle-order exposed to the pressure of a high scoring run chase.
From Pakistan’s view point, I’m sure they will take a cue from India and attack the West Indies with their spin bowlers. The West Indies batsmen shouldn’t be surprised to see Mohammad Hafeez open the bowling and can expect to be tackling spin for about 60 per cent of their innings. That said, the likes of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo are all fine players of spin.
The surprise of the tournament has undoubtedly been the Australians. I don’t think anyone expected them to be without a win from their first three games considering their tremendous strength in batting. Perhaps their bowling set up, built more on pace than spin, proved detrimental to their chances.
I was impressed with what I saw of young James Muirhead and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him in the future, but on a whole, it’s been a tournament to forget for a side that entered the event as one of the title favourites.