Pakistan all set to face West Indies in first T20I tonight

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Johnny Grave, Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief executive, says the West Indies’ upcoming tour of Pakistan, for a three-match Twenty20 International series, will help aid the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in their efforts to ensure regular international cricket at home.

Earlier this month, Najam Sethi, the PCB chairman, made the details of the tour official and while the fact that the tour itself would take place wasn’t too surprising – international cricket has started to return to Pakistan in recent times – what was noteworthy was the change in venue.

Instead of Lahore, which had been the venue for all international cricket in Pakistan over the last few years, the National Stadium in Karachi will host the three matches.

On April 1, when Pakistan and West Indies step out on to the field, it will be the first international match played in Karachi since 2009.

It is another step towards something resembling normalcy for fans of the sport in Pakistan. They have been largely starved of live top-level cricket since the attack on the touring Sri Lankans’ bus in 2009 led to international cricket ceasing to be played in the country.

“All players understand the impact that not playing at home has had on cricket in Pakistan,” says Grave. “Several of our players took part in the World XI and Pakistan Super League matches in Pakistan, and they are supportive.”

Chadwick Walton (L) and Andre Fletcher were both in action during the PSL 2018 final in Karachi

Team news

There are no fitness concerns in the Pakistan squad. With the uncapped Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi all in form, it is possible Pakistan give all three players their debut in the first game in Karachi.

Pakistan (likely XI): 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 5. Shoaib Malik, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

It’s difficult to predict West Indies’ combination, but there is no news of injury. With two uncapped players of their own, the first game could see several players from each side taking their first steps in international cricket.

West Indies (likely XI): 1 Andre Fletcher, 2 Chadwick Walton, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Jason Mohammed (capt), 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Keemo Paul, 8 Rayad Emrit, 9 Veerasammy Permaul, 10 Samuel Badree, 11 Kesrick Williams

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