Weakened West Indies team face Pakistan test

Younis was ruled out of the World T20 champions’ opening fixture with a hairline fracture in his right little finger. The injury was sustained during Pakistan’s warm-up game against Sri Lanka in Benoni on Friday whilst Younis was fielding, a match the 1992 World Cup winners won with remarkable ease. The right-handed batsman is expected to be fit for his team’s next tie against India in Centurion on Saturday.

Pakistan have traditionally been a blow-hot, blow-cold tournament, eternally a dangerous side simply because no one – including the team itself, one suspects – is quite too sure what to expect from them.

Under a new captain, the mercurial Shahid Afridi, they should be more than a handful for Floyd Reifer’s motley bunch, outclassed at home in both the Test and one-day series by relative minnows Bangladesh. West Indies’ weakened presence – all the other three sides are expected to fairly roll over the Caribbeans – reduces Group A to essentially a three-team contest, and it will be important for Afridi to ensure that on his debut as the national 50-over captain, he gets the team’s campaign off to the perfect start.

Temperamental Asif
Temperamental pacer Mohammad Asif, whose one-year ban for testing positive during the first IPL ends at midnight on Tuesday, is eligible to play on the morrow, but the team management is as yet undecided if he will get a look-in. Asif, it is learnt, has been in South Africa for a couple of days now, though with the rules preventing him from being a part of the team until his ban period expires, he took no part in the net sessions leading up to the first match.

As such, the think-tank might not be inclined to throw him into the deep end right away, though the fact that a match against a weak West Indies side could be the ideal blooding ground might weigh heavily on their minds.

There is a fair smattering of reasonable talent in the West Indies set-up, prominent among them Andre Fletcher, all-rounders Darren Sammy and David Bernard and paceman Kemar Roach, but their lack of experience and unfamiliarity with the big stage might prove major stumbling blocks. Expected to be the whipping boys, the Caribbeans will not be short on motivation, even as the three big guns will be hoping Reifer’s boys do them a favour by pulling off at least one sensational coup.

Teams (from): Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Aamer, Iftikhar Anjum.
West Indies: Floyd Reifer (capt), Dale Richards, Aaron Fletcher, Devon Smith, Travis Dowlin, David Bernard, Darren Sammy, Kemar Roach, Nikita Miller, Tino Best, Royston Crandon, Gavin Tonge, Kevin McLean, Chadwick Walton, Kieran Powell.
Umpires: Steve Davis and Daryl Harper.
Third umpire: Simon Taufel (all Australia).
Match referee: Javagal Srinath (India).

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