DHAKA, Bangladesh, CMC – Title-holders West Indies have already had some big games in the World Twenty20 Championship but none bigger than today’s do-or-die clash with Pakistan.
They had to beat Bangladesh in their second game after losing their opener to India, and then were faced with a must-win scenario against Australia in order to stay in the tournament.
Now, with the semi-finals within touching distance, the Windies intend to throw everything at Pakistan as they look to secure a place in the final four.
“It’s a do or die for us. [It’s] go big or go home. This is an important game against Pakistan, who are playing very well at the moment. But as we said before we left home, we came here to retain the title, so we will give this all we have. We’re going to do everything to defend our title,” captain Darren Sammy told reporters here Monday.
“Tomorrow’s not going to be an easy game. The thing is when we left home, we said by the time we reach the final Super 10 match against Pakistan, we’ll know exactly what we need to do, and now we’re only going to focus on what we have to do against Pakistan to win.”
West Indies will meet a Pakistan side that have seemingly cast aside their unpredictable moniker, and played outstandingly in the tournament.
Their only blemish – like West Indies – came at the hands of unbeaten India in their opening match but since then they have beaten Australia and Bangladesh to be level on four points with their Caribbean rivals.
They boast a powerful all-round side, with opener Ahmed Shehzad, middle order batsman Umar Akmal and lower order hitter Shahid Afridi capable of destroying any attack. Likewise, their bowling is spearheaded by the deadly off-spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Hafeez, backed up by sharp seamer Umar Gul.
West Indies will look to counter with the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo in the runs department, with off-spinner Sunil Narine, leg-spinner Samuel Badree and rookie left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie, shouldering the burden of the bowling attack.
Sammy said he was under no illusions about the nature of the task before his side, noting that his batsmen needed to improve their game.
“Whatever approach we come with, we definitely have to rotate the strike. It is something we’ve been working on and hopefully we can rotate the strike and get the boundaries in between, and play much better against spin than we’ve done in the past,”
“We’ve prepared ourselves, and we knew coming down to our fourth game it would be Pakistan and we knew exactly what we have to do, and spin is something that we have to conquer in that game.
“With that said, we back ourselves, put our runs on the board and defend it, or if it’s the other way around, restrict them to a low total and chase it down like we did against Australia, but hopefully it’s not 170 we chase.”
He added: “You respect your opposition, but at the end of the day, we have shown that on any given day, the best bowler can go for many runs, like that final against Sri Lanka [in 2012]. We have our plans, we have to go out and execute them, and we believe we can do that.”
West Indies are coming off a thrilling win over Australia who they beat by six wickets last Friday, in a sensational finish. Needing 12 from the last over, Sammy thumped consecutive sixes from the third and fourth deliveries to get West Indies over the line.
While the Caribbean celebrated the victory as if they had retained their title, Sammy warned that West Indies needed to re-focus.
“The people of the Caribbean really enjoyed the win. Everybody was aware of the build-up towards the game. It was an exciting match, a match where West Indies had to fight to come out on top,” he explained.
“But they are also aware that we are not into the semis as well, and the message is just to go out and do well against Pakistan and make sure we get to the semis and take it from there. Tomorrow is a very important match for both teams, like it was against Australia, and hopefully we could repeat the same thing by winning.”
The match bowls off at 7:30 pm (9:30 am Eastern Caribbean time) at the Shere Bangla Stadium.
WEST INDIES – Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
PAKISTAN – Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Junaid Khan, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Mohammad Talha, Kamran Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad.