West Indies will return to the scene of their Champions Trophy final win over England nine years ago when they face Pakistan in their 2013 tournament opener at The Oval here today.
Both sides boast an array of talented, if not always consistent, match-winners with West Indies fielding hard-hitting batsmen such as Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles, while Pakistan’s attack features star off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
“We can still take a lot from it (winning the 2004 Champions Trophy), regardless of the fact that nine years is a long time ago,” said Gayle, who last year helped the West Indies claim the World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka.
Left-handed opener Gayle, 33, played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the latest Indian Premier League and caused worldwide headlines with the fastest-ever Twenty20 century, taking just 30 balls to reach three figures against Pune Warriors.
Gayle struck an astonishing 17 sixes and 13 fours on his way to an unbeaten 175 from 66 balls. But it was Dwayne Bravo (71), Johnson Charles (58) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (55) provided the bulk of the West Indies’ runs in their recent warm-up win over Sri Lanka that followed defeat in a practice match against Champions Trophy holders Australia.
“This format is more challenging, obviously, with the longer play,” said West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo. “It’s a longer form than T20, but like I said, we have players such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard; Ramneresh Sarwan is back also Marlon Samuels is back, so you can’t forget those players.”
A new-look Pakistan team under veteran captain Misbah-ul-Haq showed their class with a six-wicket warm-up win over Group ‘B’ rivals South Africa at The Oval on Monday.
Misbah said the side had gained from their recent two-match ODI series in similar conditions in Ireland. “The ball was really moving in the air,” said Misbah, who insisted his side would concentrate on the job in hand rather than be distracted by their group clash with arch-rivals India in Birmingham on June 15.
WI players in IPL-6
> Dwayne Bravo
Matches: 18, Wickets: 32, Economy: 7.95
> Chris Gayle
Matches: 16, Runs: 708, Average: 59.00
> Sunil Narine
Matches: 16, Wickets: 22, Economy: 5.46
> Kieron Pollard
Matches: 18, Runs: 420, Average: 42.00, Wickets: 10
> Ravi Rampaul
Matches: 10, Wickets: 13, Economy: 6.92
> Darren Sammy
Matches: 10, Wickets: 8, Economy: 7.52, Runs: 174