West Indies v Pakistan preview: Can Pakistan spoil West Indies’ party?

The last time West Indies faced Pakistan in the ODI format, both teams were preparing for the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe. The one-sided affair in Karachi’s National Stadium saw West Indies beat the hosts 3-0. Four months after that series, West Indies are looking to make their case for the knock-out berth while Pakistan are trying to register their first win in the World Cup since 2009. These two sides will face each other at the picturesque Seddon Park in Hamilton on Monday (March 21), with many team’s chances depending on the result.

What’s at stake

Almost one-third of the league matches of the tournament are over, and only Australia are qualified for the knock-out stage. West Indies are currently at the third position behind Australia and South Africa with two games to go. Winning the match will take them closer to the knock-out spot, and their dependency on other teams will reduce. The first aim of the Stefanie Taylor-led team would be to make it to the semi-finals, and they have a real opportunity against Pakistan.

For Pakistan, the calculation is pretty simple. If they want to avoid the 17th consecutive loss in the ODI World Cup, they have to fight with all they have against the side that has survived many close matches in the tournament.

Magical Matthews

After scoring only 140 runs against Bangladesh in their previous fixture, West Indies had a slim chance to defend the total against the inspired side. Matthews’ career-best figures kept her side in the contest throughout the defence. The allrounder is currently topping the batting and bowling charts for West Indies with 225 runs and 10 wickets from five matches. She has cemented her place as an opener, and it is hard to imagine that she was told to open the batting just a day before the tournament opener. 

Along with her exceptional all-round display, she has been valuable in the field as well. Her three catches against Australia, even put the no. 1 ranked ODI side under pressure in the chase. 

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Finding a way to win

From the calm under pressure performance from Deandra Dottin against New Zealand to Shemaine Campbelle’s two important half-centuries, West Indies have found a way to win the important moments. Even in their loss against India, they put them under pressure with the century stand between the openers. Taylor was also amongst the runs against Australia, even though she couldn’t prevent the collapse.

West Indies truly showed their character against Bangladesh as they took regular wickets in the chase against a relatively inexperienced side. They have recently won an ODI series against Pakistan, but they should be wary of the pressure of the big tournaments, which can lead to unexpected results. 

So close yet so far

Pakistan have been exactly the opposite of the West Indies in this tournament with their luck. They should have won their league matches against South Africa and Bangladesh. Omaima Sohail and Nida Dar’s half-centuries were not enough as they lost by six runs against South Africa at the Bay Oval. Sidra Amin’s record-breaking century in the chase fell short to take Pakistan home in the close finish against Bangladesh. Aliya Riaz and captain Bismah Maroof’s partnership of 99 runs against Australia was a glimmer of hope for the side, but they couldn’t take the momentum from it.

If they have to register a win against West Indies, Pakistan can take a leaf out of Bangladesh’s page and put some pressure on with improved bowling and fielding. West Indies are marching towards the knock-out spot, but Pakistan has an opportunity to crash their party.

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What they said:

“We obviously take one game at a time because that’s all you can sort of look at. So for us, nothing (has) shifted there. Despite the results. It’s all about focusing on the West Indies. And then once that game is done, regroup, review that, look at areas that we did well and areas that we need to think about. And then focus then shifts to England and after that, we’ll be on to New Zealand.”

David Hemp, Pakistan coach, on their goal for remaining tournament 

“First and foremost is to try to get two wins. If you get the two wins, and it doesn’t come to net run rate. So, the game against Pakistan is going to be crucial to try to get the points and then see what happened after that. So I think that’ll be the first order of play, obviously, if we can win the last two games, we are more or less in the semifinals.”

Courtney Walsh, West Indies coach, on the possibility of the net run rate going to come into play

Players to watch out for:

Shemaine Campbelle

The 29-year-old wicket-keeper-batter goes under the radar in the West Indies batting line-up with the big names like Matthews, Dottin, and Taylor. Even when the form of these players has been hot and cold throughout the tournament, Campbell has provided the team with crucial partnerships. A century partnership with Chedean Nation against England was the turning point for the struggling team. Along with her batting, Campbell has been a handy wicket-keeper. Her presence of mind was crucial in the final overs against Bangladesh.

Nida Dar

Dar almost took Pakistan home in the tight chase against South Africa with her half-century. Her performance with the ball has not been that impressive in the tournament, but she still has a lot to offer to the side. The 35-year-old is amongst the most experienced players from Pakistan, and she would like to make some important contributions to her team. If Pakistan are to win their first match of the World Cup, Dar will have a responsibility on her shoulders.

Numbers

Head to head: Played 33 matches, West Indies 24 – 9 Pakistan

Predicted XI

West Indies:  Deandra Dottin,  Hayley Matthews,  Rashada Williams,  Stafanie Taylor (c)  Shemaine Campbell (wk), Chedean Nation, Aaliyah Alleyne, Chinelle Henry, Afy Fletcher, Karishma Ramharack, Shamilia Connell

Pakistan: Sidra Ameen, Nahida Khan, Bismah Maroof (c), Omaima Sohail, Nida Dar, Aliya Riaz, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Fatima Sana, Diana Baig, Ghulam Fatima, Nashra Sandhu