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Pak vs WI: Windies win toss, decide to bat first

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ISLAMABAD: West Indies on Wednesday won the toss against the hosts and decided to bat first in the opening match of Pakistan vs West Indies series in Multan.

Pakistan is hoping to get off to a solid start in the long cricket season by beating the West Indies in a three-match ODI series that just kicked off at the Multan Stadium in sweltering weather.

The three-match series is part of the Super League cycle, and both teams are eager to earn the necessary points to qualify for the 2023 World Cup.

Pakistan has never hosted a bilateral series in the hottest month (June) of the year. Multan’s weather could pose a serious challenge for both sides, even though Pakistan held the 2008 Asia Cup in Lahore and Karachi during the same month.

Things could grow a lot more difficult for both sides on Wednesday afternoon when the temperature is forecast to reach 45 degrees centigrade. But both captains look focused.

“It is all about staying in the field for the first hour and you will get used to the conditions. For the last three days, we have been training here but never felt any difficulty. In fact, we are getting used to the conditions,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said a day ahead of the start of the series.

The West Indies are coming out of the cold Dutch weather where they swept aside the host country in cricket-friendly conditions.

The West Indies team will face a two-pronged challenge at Multan Stadium, which is finally hosting international cricket after a 14-year wait.

With the hot weather and well-equipped Pakistan, enjoying the services of some of the best cricketers, especially in home conditions, is what the tourists will have to counter.

“Heat is there as we possibly have to play in 45c temperature, yet there are no excuses as we are professional and required to adjust in all conditions. Not to get dehydrated would be our effort and, at the same time, we would try to play our normal cricket,” West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran, when questioned about the tough weather on offer, said.

He praised Pakistan for being competitive all the time. But you never know who will end up winning the three-match series, as both teams are capable of doing that. I want my boys to keep up the good work they have shown in Holland and make the best use of their abilities. It feels good to be here. I have confidence in the guys as they are capable of surprising Pakistan here.”

Prolific run-getter Babar Azam hoped to continue from where the team left off against Australia in March.

“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 Stadium,” he said.

He added this is an important series for them as it holds important Super League points. The players have been working hard to prepare for the West Indies challenge, and we are eager to win another series and collect maximum points to strengthen our chances of direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup, he said.

When Nicholas Pooran leads his men out on the field on June 8, it will mark the second instance of a West Indies side taking the field at the MCS in ODIs.

The West Indies added 30 more points to their tally during their stopover in the Netherlands, defeating the hosts 3-0 on their way to Multan. Nicholas Pooran’s side currently sits in the fourth spot with eight wins from 18 matches. Pakistan, with six wins in 12 matches, is 10th with 60 points.

Pakistan squad

Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imamul Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris (wicketkeeper/batter), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper/batter), Mohammad Wasim Junior, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani and Zahid Mahmood.

West Indies squad

Nicholas Pooran (captain), Shai Hope (vice captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Shamarh Brooks, Keacy Carty, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Shermon Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Anderson Phillip, Rovman Powell, Jayden Seales, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jr.


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