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While the cricket fraternity is divided on the format of the World Cup with associates not playing, there's some sense of beauty in this format, as far as competitiveness is concerned. One can argue that a particular team has better chances of winning it than the other, there's a case for all the ten participating teams to win this tournament. The likes of India and England are definitely stronger of the lost, but even those two are prone to upsets - as seen in the warm-ups. Pakistan and West Indies are the two teams who are not being as strong contenders for the title as India or England but are certainly more than capable of hammering any side on their day. They are set to lock horns in the second game of this long-awaited tournament on 31st May at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. This venue is an exceptionally high-scoring venue traditionally and nothing different is expected this time around as well.
West Indies Cricket may not be swinging at the same heights it once used to, they still are a dangerous side to deal with. This was well and truly experienced by the powerful New Zealand bowling attack - which was thwarted for over four hundred runs in fifty overs. The same Kiwi attack which bundled Indian batting lineup for just 179.
This West Indies' lineup can safely be termed as a magnified T20 lineup. They have quality batsmen available to bat up until number nine in the batting order with the likes of Carlos Brathwaite, Jason Holder, Andre Russell, and Ashley Nurse available - who all are brilliant bowlers along with being power-hitters.
The prowess of Andre Russell wasn't gone unnoticed in the recently concluded India Premier League who dismantled almost every bowling attack in the tournament as he scored over five hundred runs at an astonishing strike-rate of just under 205. Alongside him, Chris Gayle too had a terrific run in IPL and in the series preceding that.
The pair of Andre Russell and Chris Gayle alone are enough to present troubles for even the best in the business and the Caribbean side has a few others in Shai Hope, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, and Jason Holder who all can turn the game around on their own.
All in all, the West Indies is arguably the only side that has so much of X-Factor. They have a wide array of all-rounders available at their disposal which lends their side with an impeccable balance. There is a nice amalgamation of youth and experience and with all those points, this Caribbean side may well turn out to be too hot to handle in case their bowlers deliver the goods.
Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.
There's no team other than Pakistan that has experienced as much a roller-coaster ride as them in the last few decades. Pakistan have shown some exciting periods of brilliance up until now. One thing which they've carried all along is the tag of being unpredictable.
Their unpredictability is nothing less than a paradox which is also evident by the way they've played their cricket in the last four years. Since winning the title against the best side in the tournament, India, in Champions Trophy 2017, they have gone through a rather topsy-turvy path. They've won matches against Australia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and South Africa, but have also gone down to a few of these without even putting up a fight which sums up their unpredictability and inconsistency.
Unlike the players of most of the other sides, Pakistan's players weren't involved in the taxing Indian Premier League and would be a lot fresher and rejuvenated with them playing just the right amount of cricket leading up to this World Cup. Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, and Imam ul Haq have all been in terrific form in the last few matches. However, their middle order batting and consistency has been a huge cause of concern for them which was also seen in their warm-up defeat against Afghanistan.
Their management would have been particularly happy with the form of Asif Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed in the recent matches as the duo played important roles in providing them with the impetus towards the back-end of the innings. They have ample experience available in their lineup with Shoaib Malik available to bat in their middle order.
Historically, Pakistan are known to be a side with a tremendous amount of bowling potency, but that is one department they've been found wanting in. Even against the Afghans, they failed to defend they would have defended nine times out of ten against most teams. While they have some exciting talent in their bowling lineup, the lack of experience has been a telling factor in most of their performances in recent times, especially in their series against Australia.
All in all, Pakistan have a terrific squad on paper, but as is always the case with them in all ICC tournaments, consistency will be key for them. If they can start well and carry on with the momentum, it won't be as easy to get past them despite their apparent vulnerabilities.
Imam-ul-Haq, F Zaman, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, SI Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir.
Out of the last ten completed matches, seven have been won by the team batting first has won only three. Also, the overcast conditions are likely to tempt the captain winning the toss to field first which, we think, is the right as well as the most probable decision after winning the toss.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Rain played an important role in warm-ups matches as both West Indies and Pakistan were affected in their preparations. It is expected to be a cloudy day yet again on Saturday and even though the chances of rain are slim, both the captains will be wary of the possibility of the downpour. Also, the overcast conditions will assist the quick bowlers - something which both the sides have in plenty. While the boundaries here are not the smallest in England, the surface here is a batsmen's paradise. England chased down Pakistan's total of 341 not long ago which speaks volumes about the nature of the surface. No total is a safe total here and the team batting first will be looking to score at least 350 runs.
Picking the Dream11 side for this match between West Indies and Pakistan wasn't too tricky considering that Pakistan are heavily reliant on their top order - that also happens to be in terrific form. The combination of Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, and Babar Azam has been responsible for Pakistan's most of the runs in the recent times and leaving any of those out of our Dream11 side would have affected the balance of the side.
From West Indies, Chris Gayle was an automatic pick considering his form in the build-up to this marquee ICC event and considering how well Evin Lewis played in their last warm-up fixture, it wouldn't have made much sense leaving him out.
Picking up wicket-keeper in this team is as straightforward as it gets with all other options likely to come into bat when the major part of the innings is already done and dusted. Additionally, Shai Hope has displayed scintillating cricket across all three formats in recent times and he also is our choice for captaining this side.
There couldn't have been a better choice for one of the all-rounder's position with Andre Russell available in superb batting as well as bowling form and West Indies' skipper completes the all-rounder department with his all-around skills.
With England's surface not likely to be as conducive to bowling as some of the other surfaces across the world are, playing around with the remaining budget is a more pragmatic approach. With two West Indies' bowlers already picked in the all-rounder's department, picking up at least a couple of Pakistan's bowlers was an utmost requirement to maintain balance and therefore we have Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi in our side.
We are still a few days off from this encounter, we suggest you to take a look at the updates version of our lineup once the toss is done.
With ten almost equally matched teams, the significance of each match cannot be understated in this tournament. On top of that, the first respective game of a tournament is important for any side and it isn't different for these two sides as well. Both sides are expected to come out packed full-strength against each other in what promises to be a cracker of a contest. Considering the two sides on paper, West Indies are more power-packed unit whereas Pakistan have the advantage of being a stable side. Having said that, the smaller boundaries are more likely to suit the play style of the Caribbean side who are also coming off a tremendous win in their last match. For that and the other above-mentioned reasons, we think that the West Indies are more likely to emerge triumphant in what is going to be one of the most important encounters for both sides.
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