West Indies Brace for Difficult Pakistan Test after COVID Hits Camp – caribbeannationalweekly.com
Beleaguered West Indies will attempt to shake off the disruption of four positive COVID-19 cases in their camp and refocus their attention when they take on powerful Pakistan in the opening Twenty20 International on Monday evening.
The Caribbean side arrived last Thursday but saw their preparations rocked after the trio of Sheldon Cottrell, Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers tested positive and were ruled out of the entire series, which comprises three T20 Internationals and three One-Day Internationals.
The fourth positive case is a non-coaching member of the support staff.
Captain Nicholas Pooran, who will oversee the series in the absence of the injured Kieron Pollard, said while the developments were “unfortunate”, West Indies would look the most of the situation by getting the best out of the remaining players.
“It’s unfortunate that a couple guys got COVID. Anyone can get it so it’s a little bit unfortunate,” Pooran said in Sunday’s media conference.
“Selectors, coaches, we had original plans of what the XI was going to look like – who’s going to play and who’s not going to play.
“But in saying that, other guys are going to get the opportunity to showcase their talent and their ability and I’m looking forward to seeing those guys take their opportunity.”
He continued: “Obviously it’s a rebuilding stage for us now. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have other senior players here but I’m very excited for one to see this new group of players get on to that cricket field.
“I believe they’re a lot of talented players here, a lot of special players especially when it comes to the shorter form of the game.
“For me, I’m looking forward to see us play together and sticking to our plans as much as possible and being hungry for success.”
The squad is a new look one, marked by a plethora of changes following a failed T20 World Cup title defence in the United Arab Emirates last month.
Missing are the likes of the retired Dwayne Bravo, veteran Chris Gayle who has also hinted at retirement, ageing seamer Ravi Rampaul, along with the quartet of Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell and Lendl Simmons, who are unavailable due to “personal reasons”.
And with all-rounder Jason Holder rested and Fabian Allen and Obed McCoy recovering from injury, West Indies will be fielding an inexperienced unit.
However, Pooran said there were several younger players who he backed to step up and play important roles during the series.
“We have many players. When it comes to all-rounders, there’s Odean Smith, there’s Romario Shepherd, Dominica Drakes – these are three young all-rounders and they are very, very talented,” Pooran pointed out.
“We just saw what they did in the recent T20 tournament (in Abu Dhabi) and even at CPL so there’s a lot of talent there.
“I know [Bravo] has been grooming them and I’m happy to see them on a cricket field when they get that opportunity and I know they are going to take full advantage of it and everyone will be proud of them.”
The fortunes of the two teams could not be more different heading into the series. While West Indies finished one from bottom of their group at the T20 World Cup and failed to qualify for the final four, Pakistan played unbeaten before losing in the semi-finals.
Pakistan, who beat West Indies in the Caribbean earlier this year, also followed up by sweeping Bangladesh 3-0 in Dhaka last month.
“Obviously Pakistan are playing really good. They had a really good World Cup – actually a very good 2021,” Pooran conceded.
“But in saying that, it’s T20 cricket and you always have a chance in it … and in T20 cricket, it’s anyone’s game. It just takes one individual to have a brilliant game and that can turn the results in our favour.”
Monday’s opener gets underway at 6 pm (9 am Eastern Caribbean time).
PAKISTAN – Babar Azam (captain) Shadab Khan (vice-captain) Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper) Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir
WEST INDIES – Nicholas Pooran (captain), Darren Bravo, Dominic Drakes, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Brandon King, Gudakesh Motie, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Rovman Powell.