Johannesburg:Only a dramatic reversal in form can stop Pakistan from winning their opening Champions Trophy match against an under-strength West Indies on Wednesday.
It is the only easy match for Younus Khan's Pakistanis in the four-team group as West Indies are without their first-choice side following a contract row between the players and their cricket board.
Bangladesh, who have not even qualified for this tournament, put the current West Indies team in proper perspective when they clinched both the Test and one-day series in the Caribbean this year.
|Shahid Afridi said his side will take West Indies seriously.|
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Pakistan could not have asked for a better beginning to their bid to become only the second team after India to win three ICC-conducted tournaments -- the World Cup, Twenty20 World Championship and Champions Trophy.
Pakistan, winners of the 1992 World Cup and 2009 Twenty20 Worlds, will have tougher assignments ahead as they clash with arch-rivals India and defending champions Australia in the next two matches.
The top two teams advance to semi-finals.
Many feel that a depleted West Indies side is not the best advertisement for the tournament, especially when the 50-over format is under pressure from the growing popularity of the Twenty20 cricket.
"The West Indies have always been my favourite team and I'd love to compete against a full-strength side," Younus had said recently.
Star performers Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivanaraine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo all are missing from the squad, currently led by Floyd Reifer.
The focus will be on Pakistani paceman Mohammad Asif, returning to one-day cricket after serving a one-year ban for a failed dope test.
With Pakistan announcing their playing eleven only on the morning of the match, it is yet to be seen whether they will disturb a settled combination to accommodate Asif against the West Indies.
Reifer said in a recent interview that his team were keen to put in an impressive peformance.
"I want the people in the Caribbean to know that this is a West Indies team that is dedicated to the West Indies cricket. This is not a second-string team," Reifer said.
The West Indies were winners in 2004 and runners-up in 2006.
Pakistan (from): Younus Khan (capt), Imran Nazir, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umer Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamir, Mohammad Asif, Rao Iftikhar, Saeed Ajmal
West Indies: Floyd Reifer (capt), Darren Sammy, David Bernard, Tino Best, Royston Crandon, Travis Dowlin, Andre Fletcher, Nikita Miller, Kevin McLean, Kieran Powell, Dale Richards, Kemar Roach, Devon Smith, Gavin Tonge, Chadwick Walton
Umpires: Steve Davis (AUS) and Daryl Harper (AUS)
TV umpire: Simon Taufel (AUS)
Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)