NOTTINGHAM    -   The two most unpredictable sides in the competition come face to face at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge. West Indies and Pakistan can be indifferent or spectacular. But on their day, there is no doubt that they can challenge, and beat, the world’s top sides.

Pakistan haven’t had the most ideal preparation for the tournament. They lost to Afghanistan in their first warm-up game, and their second, against Bangladesh, was washed out without a ball bowled. More worryingly, they have lost their last ten completed ODIs. Nevertheless, Pakistan at ICC tournaments have traditionally been a notch above what they are at other times. Every other team in the world found that out the hard way at the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017, and there is little reason to doubt that with a young squad bursting with talent, they can do it all over again.

Amir has been brought with a purpose, and that is to add value with his experience. Amir brings past success in England and has all the skill-sets to succeed in these conditions, especially if swing is on offer, he is at his most devastating.

However, Pakistan captain Sarfraz was brimming with confidence as he underlined the importance of a fresh start in a tournament as big as the World Cup on the eve of their tournament opener against the West Indies.

“It is important to let go the past. It is important to forget what happened in England a couple of weeks ago and move on,” Sarfraz said referring to the 0-4 mauling at the hands of England. “This is the World Cup; it doesn’t get bigger than this. Losing to Australia and England was a tough pill to swallow, especially as a Pakistan captain. But it’s time to forget and focus on the present. No one is the squad is carrying the scars of those defeats. We are a confident unit. We will forget our defeat with Afghanistan and have a clear mind to begin our journey into the World Cup.”

Termed unpredictable for far too long now, Sarfraz mentioned Pakistan don’t mind carrying that label as it helps them surprise oppositions. “I think it’s good to be unpredictable. All teams are scared because of Pakistan. At the end of the day, Pakistan team is very dangerous. So it’s good to be for the World Cup very unpredictable, so it will affect the whole outcome,” he said.

“You know, if you contain any teams, you have to take wickets. If you’re not taking wickets here, so you can’t – you’ve got to stop runs. Whether you play England, either you play West Indies or Australia, you have to take wicket if you stop any team. So however teams play any other teams, any teams takes wickets, then they will respect them, any team it’s possible to have 70, 80 runs,” Sarfraz added.

 “I think we are not thinking about the result previously. We didn’t play well as a team. If you see (indiscernible) things, our batting is performing well, so we don’t think about it. We are very focused and we are very hopeful as a team that we will do well, inshallah, in this World Cup.”

It was evident from their training that for a change, Pakistan have an injury-free side this year, which is a good headache to have as pointed out by Sarfraz. “I think definitely, for the first time we all are. It’s very difficult to make the playing 11, but as we make the playing 11, we all are very clear what team is playing tomorrow. Mohammad Amir is fit and he is available for selection,” he said.

Standing opposite them are West Indies, who held the world’s No.1 ODI side to a stalemate at home earlier this year. They have a batting line-up that is exploding with firepower. It gave them 421 runs in their last warm-up game, against New Zealand. But if you thought their batting is all about the big hits, then you’re wrong: Shai Hope, who is in the form of his life, is perfectly capable of staying at the crease and building the innings. In his last five ODI innings, Hope has reeled off scores of 170, 109, 30, 87 and 74. He also made a century in the warm-ups to boot.

Their bowling is slightly less-heralded, but with a solid pool of all-rounders to tap into, they have several options on that front. And besides, if the batsmen show up in the mood that they did against New Zealand, they’re going to have plenty to play with.

Not only does Andre Russell severely bruise bowling attacks, he also does it from pretty low down the order, meaning teams can expect very little respite if they do manage to cut through the rest of the top and middle order.

Nottingham is expected to be cloudy for the most part, with some sunny intervals in between. Rain is expected to stay away, but the overcast conditions could make Gayle against Amir and Wahab Riaz an intriguing contest.