T20I series preview: West Indies v Pakistan

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World Twenty20 champions and two positions stronger than Pakistan in the ICC rankings, the West Indies have a chance to redeem their ODI poverty in a format that has seldom disappointed recently.

World Twenty20 champions and two positions stronger than Pakistan in the ICC rankings, the West Indies have a chance to redeem their ODI poverty in a format that has seldom disappointed recently.

June's entirety and July's bulk were not good to the Windies, with a premature Champions Trophy exit, twin defeats in the tri-series with Sri Lanka and India – and a trio of losses in the bilateral series reasonably damaging.

The shortest version of the international game, however, will again benefit a unit primed for brief, effective bursts – rather than prolonged passages of determination and concentration. <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Cricket betting</b></a>, indeed, has never been more balanced.

Chris Gayle endured a slump in form this month and the last, so much so he was pushed into the middle order in the hope of bigger runs. Varied results ensued, but a return to the top of the knock for the recipient of a whopping 175 not out in the 2013 Indian Premier League suggests better.

Pakistan meanwhile, have to fit into Mohammad Hafeez's regime. Relatively new to the T20I captaincy, Hafeez has big boots to fill in the absence of Misbah-ul-Haq, who is a commanding, authoritative presence in the ODI outfit. It's a stark contrast to the Windies, who welcome Darren Sammy's return to the reins – and Dwayne Bravo's momentary move to the rank and file.

What so-called passengers during the ODI series couldn't bring to the party, Sohail Tanvir, Zulfiqar Babar and Hammad Azam, who have arrived exclusively for the weekend's T20Is, surely will.

<b>Key Men</b><br>The sight of Gayle in the middle order really doesn't sit well, and due promotion to the helm of the order is a near foregone conclusion. Whether he will be able to successfully counter a Pakistani attack that might start with a slow bowler, though, remains to be seen.

Faith has been restored in Shahid Afridi – and odds on his success across betting sites like <a href='http://www.paddypower.com' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Paddy Power</b></a> have bettered. The explosive all-rounder couldn't ask for a more evenly matched opposition to strut his stuff against.

<b>Last Head-To-Head Result</b><br>2011: One-off T20I: West Indies won by seven runs in St Lucia

<b>Squads</b><br><i>West Indies:</i> Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Christopher Barnwell, Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles (wicketkeeper), Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons.

<i>Pakistan:</i> Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Ali, Hammad Azam, Haris Sohail, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Wahab Riaz, Zulfiqar Babar.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First T20I: Arnos Vale Ground, St Vincent, 27 July<br>Second T20I: Arnos Vale Ground, St Vincent, 28 July

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