Pakistan take another step in the process of permanently bringing international cricket back to their homeland this week, when they host the West Indies in a three-game T20 International series at Karachi’s National Stadium.
It is well documented that Pakistan have been forced to hold the vast majority of their “home” cricket outside their own country since a 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team. Recently however, signs are good that this may not be the case for much longer. Following the ICC sending a World XI to Lahore for three game series in September last year, Sri Lanka visited for one T20 at the same venue a month later. This series is significant not only because it is the first full bilateral series against a fellow Full Member to be hosted in the country since 2015, but it is the first at a venue outside Lahore for 9 years. Positive progress indeed.
The series is also intriguing as it pits the ICC’s top ranked T20 side in Pakistan against the current format world champions. Pakistan have won their last six T20 series, whilst West Indies have slipped a little since their World Twenty20 Cup win a couple of years back, and are now ranked fifth. However, confidence will be high from their success in qualifying for the 50-over world cup earlier this month, and a close series awaits.
Both sides have named squads with a mix of experience and new faces. There are as many eight potential 20-over debutants in the two squads. The players looking to make their bow in the format (and in many cases in all international cricket) are Odean Smith, Veersammy Permaul, Keemo Paul and Andre McCarthy for the visitors, and Shaheen Afridi, Rahat Ali, Asif Ali and Hussain Talat for the hosts.
Among the more experienced players, there are a few personal milestones to keep an eye out for over the next week:
Shoaib Malik (Pakistan)
All-rounder Shoaib Malik’s 1821 runs in Twenty20 internationals are enough to see him currently sit in seventh place in the world all-time. JP Duminy is just one run ahead in sixth, and Rohit Sharma and Tilikaratne Dilshan are also within reach. 68 runs are all he needs to move up to fourth place past all of the aforementioned.
Dinesh Ramdin (West Indies)
The Windies keeper currently has 51 dismissals in the shortest format, enough for joint fifth in the world alongside Umar Akmal and Mushfiqur Rahim. Two more will see him move clear of those, and also past Afghanistan’s cult hero keeper Mohammad Shahzad into fourth.