NOTTINGHAM (England): Pakistan, which has lost their last 11 ODIs on the trot run into a buoyant West Indies team that amassed 421 in their last match, a warm-up, against a formidable New Zealand side in the two sides’ first match of the ICC World Cup 2019 at the Trent Bridge in Nottingham on May 31.

But the West Indies captain Jason Holder isn’t giving much to the run-up of the past World Cup winners ahead of his side’s opening clash of the 2019 Men’s Cricket World Cup. “We just want to be as professional as we possibly can and not take anything for granted,” he told the official news site of CWC19.

“We just assess who we’re playing against, formulate our plans and look to execute them. You try to pinpoint particular areas that you can attack.”

“Us as a bowling group, we just want to be as disciplined as we possibly can. In the past, we’ve been a bit inconsistent and just generally when you’re just sitting back and analysing the game, we just want to be ticking our box in terms of being consistent and being ruthless,” he added.

In his opposite camp, some good news finally came in the form of pace spearhead Mohammad Amir being declared fit and available for selection for the match.

Amir, who missed the 2011 and 2015 World Cups due to a five-year ban for spot-fixing, was seen bowling using his full run-up in the team’s practice session.

There was speculation that the 27-year-old, who missed the last four matches of the one-day international series against England earlier this month, might not be able to make his World Cup debut at Trent Bridge.

His fitness, along with the arrival of veteran Wahab Riaz — who was the most impressive bowler in Pakistan’s losing effort against Afghanistan in their only played warm-up match — suddenly makes Pakistan bowling regain the old age. For, giving the two company would be the bowler of the tournament of the last Champions Trophy Hasan Ali and leggie Shadab Khan. Left-arm slow Imad Wasim, an all-rounder, too is in a good nick.

Does that make Pakistan’s bowling attack better than that of the Windies? It surely does. It easily does.

Unfortunately for Pakistan, that still might not be enough against a team that has packed on so many and so huge power hitters that even mis-hits by them are going to land deep into the stands. That huge power hitter could be Chris Gayle. Or Carlos Braithwaite. Or, what’s his name, yes, Andre Russell. And we’re not even allowing Lewis, Hope, Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer (explosive talent), Pooran and Holder in that list.

Yes, the Windies can spectacularly implode — just as they can fall to spectacular deliveries, like a reverse-swinging yorker by Wahab — but, going by the recent history between the two teams, it seems unlikely today.

Pakistan’s batting, on the other hand, barring opener Fakhar Zaman, is a steady and almost a steady, almost a solid ‘test match qualified’ unit. Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam (one of the world’s best batsman currently), Harris Sohail, veteran Mohammed Hafeez and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed make a lineup that scored over 300 in all the matches that Pakistan played against England in their recent bilateral series.

But can that ‘solid’ batting line up bat out an opposition? Nothing so far has suggested that they can.

And for that as one of the principal reasons, we predict that West Indies would comfortably defeat Pakistan in the two teams’ first match of the ICC World Cup in Nottingham on May 31.

Irrespective, Windies and Pakistan are both exciting teams and we hope today’s match is a more balanced one than the England vs South Africa opener.


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