West Indies v Pakistan: Sarfraz's men eye timely return to form

Pakistan will hope they can turn things around at just the right time as they open their Cricket World Cup campaign against West Indies at Trent Bridge on the back of a 10-match losing run in ODIs.

A 4-0 series defeat to tournament hosts England extended Pakistan's miserable streak, but they can take heart from the fact they won the last major tournament in the United Kingdom, the 2017 Champions Trophy.

At a venue synonymous with high scoring in recent years, Mickey Arthur's men face the daunting task of keeping the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell quiet on Friday.

Gayle, who will retire from ODI cricket after the World Cup, heads into the event in superb form having registered two hundreds and three fifties in his last five innings in 50-over internationals, while Russell was a destructive presence throughout the recent Indian Premier League campaign.

With England, India and Australia favoured to secure semi-final berths, Pakistan and West Indies will both be determined not to lose early ground in the group stage.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed refused to divulge details of the make-up of his XI in a news conference on Thursday, but he did suggest all 15 players were fit despite reports suggesting Mohammad Amir would not recover from illness in time to feature.

 

HOW DID THEY WARM UP?

Jason Holder's West Indies have displayed mixed form in the lead-up to the tournament, but they certainly caught fire in their warm-up win over New Zealand, an elongated order amassing a mammoth total of 421 at Bristol.

Pakistan's dismal run in ODIs has been well-documented and they also lost a warm-up fixture against Afghanistan last week. However, head coach Arthur is confident his side will benefit from the fact they have played in England for several weeks ahead of the tournament. 

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Jason Holder: "One thing I like coming into this tournament is that every player is in a good frame of mind. Everybody is playing with a smile on their face, and I think that's how we play our best cricket."

Sarfraz Ahmed: "I think it's good to be unpredictable. All teams are scared because of Pakistan. At the end of the day, the Pakistan team is very dangerous."

 

OPTA FACTS

- Pakistan have won seven of their last nine ODIs against the West Indies, including their previous two meetings (both in April 2017).

- West Indies have managed to win five of their six completed ODI games played at Trent Bridge (L1) whilst Pakistan have suffered three defeats on the bounce at the Nottingham venue heading into this contest.

- Babar Azam has struck hundreds in four of his six ODI knocks against West Indies. He needs one more century to equal Brian Lara's record of five centuries in ODIs between West Indies and Pakistan.

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