MIRPUR: It will be a battle between two world-class off-spinners as defending champions West Indies meet Pakistan in a ‘Do-or-Die’ final group league encounter of the ICC World Twenty20 here today.
Both teams are on four points each and it will be a virtual quarter-final clash to decide on the second semi-finalist from Group 2 after India emerged group champions with an all-win record.
The match is being billed as a battle between the mystery spinners with West Indies banking heavily on Sunil Narine while Pakistan’s hopes will be pinned on Saeed Ajmal.
“The team that plays spinners well will win the match. We know that it is a match where we can’t make a mistake,” Pakistan captain Mohammed Hafeez said on the eve of their clash against Darren Sammy’s West Indies.
While West Indies’ inspirational win against Australia has given the team much-needed boost, Pakistan also had two convincing victories against Australia and hosts Bangladesh.
Both teams are on even keel as far as their strengths are concerned and it will be interesting to see how the rival batsmen tackle the spinners.
To complement Narine, West Indies also have leg-spinner Samuel Badree, who is second in the ICC’s list of T20 bowlers after teammate Sunil Narine.
While Narine has bowled with a superb economy rate of 4.66 runs per over in the three matches, Badree has compensated for his 6.66 economy rate with seven scalps to his credit.
If Narine has Badree as his spinning partner, Ajmal will get the support from left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar and veteran Shahid Afridi bowling his leg-breaks.
Ajmal has got four wickets in three games with a decent economy rate of less than seven runs per over, while paceman Umar Gul has been the most successful bowler with six wickets to his name.
It will be interesting to see what strategy will be employed by Pakistan for the dangerous Chris Gayle, who has shown signs of getting back to his element with an impressive 53 against the Australians.
There is a possibility that Pakistan will be starting with a double-spin attack as Gayle is not known for his nimble footwork during the initial part of the innings. Not to forget skipper Sammy, who is high on confidence after his 13-ball-34 that helped Caribbeans clinch the issue.
West Indies will also be boosted by the presence of former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq in their camp.
However, when Hafeez was asked about Saqlain’s presence in the opposition camp, he didn’t pay much heed to it.
“He (Saqlain) was a great spinner but obviously he does not have a tablet which he will make the players gulp and changes will happen instantly. It only happens over a period of time,” the skipper said.
Pakistan’s batting will depend a lot on two youngsters –Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, who have scored a century (111 no) and 94 respectively. Both youngsters are capable of taking the attack back to the opposition camp and will like to do so again on Tuesday.
Hafeez’s opposite number Sammy said that they are not emotionally drained after their highly exciting game against Australia the other day.
“We are well aware that we have not won the tournament. It’s a do-or-die situation. We have to do well to go big or else we will go home. We can’t make the mistakes that we made against India of playing around 60 percent dot balls.”
On a lighter note, Sammy was asked about the reaction of the Caribbean people back home, the skipper laughed and replied, “They are now blaming us for people drinking and partying a lot on that night.”