Pakistan ready to brave West Indies challenge amid scorching Multan heat
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When Pakistan and the West Indies meet in Multan tomorrow (Wednesday) it will mark beginning of a new era for Pakistan cricket with the city hosting international cricket after 14 long years.
The three One-Day Internationals are part of the Super League cycle and both sides are eager to secure crucial points to advance their chances for direct qualification in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
The two teams enter the series high on confidence.
Babar Azam’s side defeated Aaron Finch’s men 2-1 in March in Lahore in what was Pakistan’s first ODI series win over Australia in 20 years. This is Pakistan’s fifth Super League series. They have defeated Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia, and lost to England.
It is the captain himself who has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s successes. Babar, who is number one in the ICC ODI Player rankings for batters, leads the batting charts with 902 runs at a stratospheric average of 90.20. He is the only batter to have smashed five centuries in the ongoing cycle, with Ireland’s Paul Stirling being the second best with three. The right-handed stylish strokemaker has dispatched exactly 100 balls towards the fence for four.
Pakistan’s second best batter in the cycle has been Imam-ul-Haq who enters the series at the back of a scintillating Australia series in which he struck two consecutive centuries and a breezy 89 not out, playing an integral role in his side’s historic win. The southpaw has scored 598 runs at 54.36, and along with the two centuries has also struck five half-centuries.
Fearsome pacers – Haris Rauf and Shaheen Shah Afridi – are the leading wicket-takers for Pakistan in the Super League with 19 scalps apiece. Haris’ average of 28.73 is a shade better than Shaheen’s 29.52.
The West Indies added 30 more points to their tally during their stopover in Netherlands, defeating the hosts 3-0, on their way to Multan. Nicholas Pooran’s side currently sits on the fourth spot with eight wins from 18 matches.
Pakistan with six wins in 12 matches are 10th with 60 points.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said: “It is a really exciting moment for me to lead Pakistan in Multan for this all-important series. Multan is home to passionate cricket fans and it is great to be here. I am looking forward to the fans cheering the return of international cricket after a lengthy gap, and I am sure they will get to see some great cricket at the beautiful Multan Cricket Stadium.
“This is an important series for us as it holds important Super League points. The players have been putting in a lot of effort to prepare themselves for the West Indies challenge and we are eager to win another series and bag maximum points to consolidate our chances for direct qualification in the 2023 World Cup.”
West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran added: “It feels good to be here. I have confidence in our guys after we did well in Netherlands and we are hoping to continue our good performances here in Pakistan.”
An ODI win in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League fixture adds 10 points to a team’s tally.
The three ODIs will be played on 8, 10 and 12 June with the matches beginning at 1600 (local time).