Champions Trophy Preview: West Indies seek fresh Oval glory against Pakistan

Updated: 07 June 2013 10:52 IST

For Pakistan, Friday's fixture will be their first competitive match in England since their scandal-hit tour of 2010 which eventually saw then Test captain Salman Butt and seamers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif all banned and jailed after being caught up in a newspaper spot-fixing sting operation.

London:

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 on Friday.

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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."

For Pakistan, Friday's fixture will be their first competitive match in England since their scandal-hit tour of 2010 which eventually saw then Test captain Salman Butt and seamers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif all banned and jailed after being caught up in a newspaper spot-fixing sting operation.

It was at The Oval too, in 2006, that Pakistan became the first side in Test history to forfeit a match after they refused to take the field after they were penalised five runs for ball-tampering -- a decision that was to cost Australia's Darrell Hair his career as a top-flight international umpire.

A new-look side 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.

Ajmal has the ability to confound any batsman on his day and Misbah said: "Everybody knows that he's one of the best spinners in the world.

"These kind of bowlers, these kind of players always love these sort of occasions, big events."

Back in 1979, West Indies beat Pakistan by 43 runs in a World Cup semi-final at The Oval.

But the match was in the balance while Pakistan's Majid Khan (81) and Zaheer Abbas (93) were batting against one of the most formidable fast bowling attacks ever assembled.

It is asking a lot of Friday's encounter to hit similar heights but with both Pakistan and the West Indies the joy -- and often the frustration -- is that fans can never be quite sure what they will get.

Topics : Cricket ICC Champions Trophy 2013 MS Dhoni Chris Gayle Gary Kirsten Dwayne Bravo Ravi Rampaul Marlon Samuels West Indies Kemar Roach Saeed Ajmal New Zealand Bangladesh Pakistan Junaid Khan ICC World Cup, 2011
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