West Indies v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Gros Islet, St Lucia April 22, 2011

Teams square off with notable absentees

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Match Facts

April 23, Gros Islet, St Lucia
Start time 0930am (1330 GMT)

The Big Picture

Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Kieron Pollard, Umar Gul, Younis Khan, Kamran Akmal. The list of players missing from West Indies' home ODI series against Pakistan, for all manner of reasons, is long. It's been a somewhat incongruent start to the tour for Pakistan, who have enjoyed the far smoother preparation, having planned to rest Gul and Younis ahead of the subsequent Test series, while also cutting ties with the iron-gloved Kamran. The only kind of disquiet was created by the captain Shahid Afridi's change of heart over making the trip to the Caribbean.

Gayle has of course been at the centre of a perfect storm surrounding his non-selection and subsequent flight to the IPL, where the in-demand Pollard had already chosen to play ahead of national duties. Dwayne Bravo will join them when the Test matches start, painting an altogether unhealthy picture of West Indies unity, or lack thereof.

However, a strong victory in the opening Twenty20 match suggested that Darren Sammy's side is not entirely without hope, and will fancy their chances of overturning an ugly World Cup quarter-final loss to Pakistan in Mirpur, 31 days ago. Notable too is the return of Marlon Samuels for his first ODI since being banned for inappropriate dealings with an illegal bookmaker. It is nearly a year since Samuels became eligible to return.

Form guide

(most recent first)

West Indies WWLLL

Pakistan LWWWL

Watch out for...

Lendl Simmons showed plenty of vim at the top of the order for West Indies in the Twenty20 prelude to this match, and will need to keep that up in the absence of Gayle. The circumstances of Gayle's departure indicate that he might not be back, so Simmons has the chance to make the opening spot his own.

Umar Akmal will also be hoping to raise his game in this series. A joy to behold at the batting crease, Umar must continue to grow and mature in the knowledge that the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq and the absent Younis are ageing all the time.

Team news

West Indies expressed the desire to try a younger side against Pakistan in this series, but their manner of doing so caused all kinds of ructions surrounding the future of Gayle and Sarwan. Samuels, older and wiser, is back in the team, while Simmons will have the task of replacing Gayle at the top of the order. Pakistan have also plumped for youth, though in the case of Younis and Gul theirs is only a temporary absence. Hammad Azam is the man charged with replacing Abdul Razzaq as the allrounder.

West Indies (possible): 1 Devon Smith, 2 Lendl Simmons, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Kirk Edwards, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Ravi Rampaul

Pakistan (possible): 1 Taufeeq Umar, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Hammad Azam, 7 Mohammad Salman (wk), 8 Shahid Afridi (capt), 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Tanvir Ahmed, 11 Saeed Ajmal.

Pitch and conditions

The St Lucia surface lost pace noticeably over the course of the Twenty20 match that opened the tour, meaning more of the same can be expected in the first ODI - Ajmal and Bishoo take note.

Stats and trivia

  • West Indies have not beaten Pakistan in a bilateral ODI series since a 2-0 success in Pakistan over three matches in November 1991 - the second match was tied.

  • Pakistan won the only two matches between the two nations to be played in St Lucia, by 40 and 22 runs during the 2005 series won 3-0 by the visitors.

  • West Indies' short-term batting coach Desmond Haynes has made the most runs in limited-overs matches between the two countries, racking up 2390 at 41.92 in 65 matches, though his strike-rate of 60.86 now appears a little dated.

  • Samuels' last ODI appearance was also in St Lucia, against Sri Lanka in April 2008. He finished 3 not out as the match was wiped out by rain.

Quotes

"I have served West Indies for many years, but I was disrespected a lot, and I have been playing under a lot of pressure. I can't sleep properly. I need to get this off my chest. I want everybody to print what I said, I want to clear the air and I want them to ease up. WICB… back up offa my back."
Chris Gayle is the most high-profile absentee from the series, for the most high-profile reasons, too.

"I had decided to skip the tour because I wanted to take a break from the game, but some former players and my family and friends told me to change my decision at this crucial time for Pakistan cricket."
Shahid Afridi might have been missing too if not for second thoughts.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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