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Pakistan facing the West Indies is one of the more intriguing matchups during the first round of group matches at the ICC Champions Trophy.
Pakistan comes into this tournament as a bit of a question mark, rolling out a young team devoid of mainstays such as Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan and Umar Gul. The country hasn't been particularly impressive in ODI play over the last year either, achieving a 9-8 record in their last 17 matches.
Still, this is a team with a lot of talent, and one that should be in the conversation to advance to the semifinals.
Meanwhile, West Indies is an extremely dangerous team on its best day, and a very good team on the rest of them. With Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach and Sunil Narine, they are led by a strong core.
But West Indies also are fully capable of beating themselves and sometimes fail to play as a cohesive unit. Failing to play together is perhaps a large reason why the highest-profile win the country has in ODI play since winning this tournament in 2009 came against New Zealand last July.
Both of these teams have huge potential. Both also have shown the capacity to disappoint. Let's break down this compelling matchup.
When: Friday, June 7 at 5:30 a.m. ET
Where: Kennington Oval, London, England
What They're Saying
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It's no secret both of these teams boast talented albeit inconsistent players. The AFP (via DAWN.com) took a closer look at some of the West Indie's premier options:
Both sides boast an array of talented, if not always consistent, match-winners with West Indies fielding hard-hitting batsmen such as Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles, while Pakistan's attack features star off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
"We can still take a lot from it (winning the 2004 Champions Trophy), regardless of the fact that nine years is a long time ago," said Gayle, who last year helped the West Indies claim the World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka.
Left-handed opener Gayle, 33, played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the latest Indian Premier League and caused worldwide headlines with the fastest-ever Twenty20 century, taking just 30 balls to reach three figures against Pune Warriors.
Gayle struck an astonishing 17 sixes and 13 fours on his way to an unbeaten 175 from 66 balls.
But it was Dwayne Bravo (71), Johnson Charles (58) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (55) provided the bulk of the West Indies' runs in their recent warm-up win over Sri Lanka that followed defeat in a practice match against Champions Trophy holders Australia.
Pakistan Player to Watch: Mohammad Hafeez
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Hafeez has a critical role, as he will be relied on to score early runs atop the order. There were fears in the past that his potential outweighed his production, but since 2011 he has been a pretty solid fixture for this Pakistan team.
He dropped a hundred against Ireland two weeks ago and has become one of the squad's most reliable run-scorers in ODI play. If he gets the team off to a strong start, West Indies could be in trouble.
West Indies Player to Watch: Kieron Pollard
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Few players have the type of power that Pollard brings to a match. An absolute force of nature, he's one of the most exciting cricketers to watch in the world.
His performances for the national team haven't always aligned, however, with his enormous ability. Still, as Nagraj Gollapudi of ESPN Cricinfo notes, "He has been West Indies' best ODI batsman since the 2011-12 season where he has scored 926 runs from 30 innings with three centuries (most by a West Indies batsman during this period)."
In other words, don't take your eyes off of Pollard.
Which team wins?
I like the West Indies here. The team has a solid core and has the talent to beat anyone they face. Meanwhile, Pakistan is going to have some bumps in this tournament with a younger squad. Pakistan may recover in its next two matches, but I like the West Indies to take this one in what promises to be a competitive competition.