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Stuart Dalgleish 22nd Mar 2011 - 16:13

Gayle ready to blow Pakistan away

Pakistan v West Indies - Wednesday 09:00 live on Sky Sports 1

While England have certainly taken the title in this World Cup, this match between Pakistan (8/15) and West Indies (6/4) could be classed as a match-up of mavericks.

They've both performed well, but you know that a spectacular implosion is just around the corner; the Windies proved this against England when they were in a great position to knock Andrew Strauss' men out but collapsed to leave themselves still with work to do to qualify.

That game for the Windies could have been even worse though if it weren't for the excellent Chris Gayle (3/1 top WI batsman); the opener is by far and away their best batsman and he really took it to England's bowlers from the off with some huge hitting, he will hold the key to their progression to the semis.

Gayle missed out against India, where again his team contrived to throw away a position of relative comfort at 154/2 to end up being all out for 188, and as such losing the game by 80 runs.

Surely if they're to get past such a prolific attack as Pakistan's, they'll need some more steel in the middle order.

For me, Shiv Chanderpaul (5/1 top WI bat) has to be reinstated at the top of the order, or maybe even batting at three. He's had a couple of struggles this World Cup, but he's still a canny player and will frustrate Pakistan's bowlers with his awkward technique.

If Chanderpaul returns, then captain Darren Sammy (12/1 top WI bat, 7/1 top WI bowler) will have some decisions to make; does he utilise his legbreak and dispense of the promising Devendra Bishoo (4/1), who's performed well in two matches now but in a losing cause, or is Ravi Rampaul (9/2 top WI bowler) set for the chop despite a five-for against India?

It's possible that both the bowlers will play and Kirk Edwards (9/2 top WI bat) will be dropped, but the batting is West Indies' weak point; Kemar Roach (5/2 top WI bowler) and Sulieman Benn (3/1) have been the men taking wickets to put WI through to this stage, but can they do it all on their own if one of their bowlers is taken out of the side?

Pakistan have the same problems as West Indies, their bowling unit has been fantastic, with Shahid Afridi (9/4 top Pak bowler, 10/1 top Pak batsman) leading by example with 17 wickets so far, only nobody has managed to put a great total on the board.

It hasn't been too much of a problem for the 1992 champions, they are all batting as a team at the moment, and that's fine, but in the crunch games like this they might need somebody to step up and score a ton to see them home, I'm not sure they've got the players to do it.

Afridi seems to always be their go-to guy with the ball, as he can get rid of a few batsmen to dip the scales in Pakistan's favour, the captain might have to step up with the bat now as he's only scored 65 runs in six matches.

Nobody in the Pakistan line-up has scored a century yet, Misbah-ul-Haq (9/2 top Pak batsman) has their top score with 83, while Asad Shafiq (9/2) has come in for the last couple of games to score a 46 and a 78, it's taken some of the pressure off the desperately disappointing Mohammad Hafeez (7/2), who's averaging just 18.50 at the top of the order.

This could be set for another low-scoring thriller; it's at the same pitch where West Indies crushed Bangladesh by bowling them out for just 58 in Dhaka, the wicket is a low-turner so the batsmen have to have their wits about them if there is to be runs scored.

The dual between Afridi and Gayle could be one of the best tactical battles we'll see at this World Cup, if the Pakistan captain gets it right then his team will be reaching the semi-finals, offer anything up to Gayle and he could single-handedly put the Windies through.



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