Match facts

September 27, 2016
Start time 2000 local (1600 GMT)

Big Picture

Bereft of confidence and 0-4 down, not much was happening for Pakistan's limited-overs squad in their ODI series against England last month. But, as is the case in sport, one moment of clear thinking can help a team turn around. Pakistan achieved that through a partnership between their best limited-overs batsmen, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed, in a demanding chase of 303 in Cardiff. Three convincing T20 wins followed, and now, Pakistan have an atypical sense of belief in their own game, and camaraderie under newly-appointed captain Sarfraz has hit a new level. Although this series is done, Pakistan are still striving to find the glue that can hold it all together: consistency.

Pakistan's series win against West Indies has been built around the same modus operandi they've used for decades - bat to par and bowl well above that. Reducing the world champions to 48 for 8 and 89 for 7 in the first two T20s showed their discipline with the ball. A youthful side has also shown the ability to save runs on the field. But, how will Pakistan's new-look outfit hold their own under the duress that this format often brings?

As teams master the T20 format, they also sometimes deem a "bad day" acceptable. West Indies' batsmen suffered two in succession, which has cost the team the series; their six-hitters have hit the wall when unable to find the boundary. "West Indies are known to be a boundary-hitting side. But it's up to us to find a way around that," batting coach Toby Radford said after the second T20. If they don't, a whitewash may be inevitable.

Form guide

Pakistan WWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LLWWW

In the spotlight

Shoaib Malik has been one of Pakistan's most consistent T20 performers. In his last 16 T20I innings, Malik has failed to register a double-digit score just once. Malik's experience and fielding prowess have also helped Pakistan in their dramatic limited-overs revival.

West Indies' middle order, which includes Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Carlos Brathwaite, is arguably the best in the world. Bravo resurrected West Indies' innings in the first T20 with a 54-ball 55. But for them to be at their destructive best, West Indies' top order has to set a base from where the middle order can attack effectively.

Team news

Pakistan have no reason to change their winning combination with a whitewash in sight, although coach Mickey Arthur said on the eve of the game that there might be changes on the fast-bowling front. "We would like to bring in [Mohammad] Amir, and start him bowling before the ODIs," he said. "I want to know how Rumman Raees goes too, but we will take a final decision tomorrow."*

Pakistan (probable): 1 Sharjeel Khan, 2 Khalid Latif, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Sohail Tanvir, 11 Hasan Ali/Mohammad Amir

With the series gone, captain Carlos Brathwaite said they are likely to hand a debut to one or two players. Rovman Powell may make it into the XI for Nicholas Pooran, who has scores of 5 and 4 in his first two T20Is. West Indies may also rejig their misfiring top order.

West Indies (probable): 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Andre Fletcher (wk), 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Carlos Brathwaite (capt), 8 Rovman Powell/Nicholas Pooran, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Samuel Badree, 11 Jerome Taylor

Pitch and conditions

Abu Dhabi, with its larger dimensions, will provide a different challenge to the batsmen. Pakistan's batsmen scampered through for plenty of twos in the smaller Dubai outfield, which could continue. West Indies' six-hitting ability and adaptability will be tested. The nature of the pitch is unlikely to be too dissimilar from the first two T20Is, and temperatures are expected to be in the late 30s again.

Stats and trivia

  • Before this series, Pakistan had never won more than one match in a three-match T20I series
  • Pakistan's left-arm bowlers have taken 14 wickets this series, the joint most for any team in a bilateral T20I series
  • Pakistan have won only one of the four T20Is they have played in Abu Dhabi
  • Quotes

    "The dot-ball percentage was always far too high [previously in limited-overs cricket], so we had to rotate the strike more and we particulary worked hard to score off good balls. It was pleasing to see us score so many [87] off the last ten the other night."
    Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur is happy that his team's efforts to improve aspects of their limited-overs batting are working

    "I haven't lost confidence in anyone as a team".
    Captain Carlos Brathwaite is clear about believing in his team despite losing the two matches.

    *18.00GMT, September 26: The preview was updated after Mickey Arthur's media interaction

    Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo