ABU DHABI: West Indian captain Chris Gayle said on Tuesday fit-again paceman Shoaib Akhtar will be the key factor for Pakistan in the three-match series starting here from Wednesday.

“He (Akhtar) is always the key factor,” Gayle said of the maverick Pakistan paceman, who will play his first one-dayer for over a year. “He is a wicket-taking bowler in a strong Pakistan pace attack.”

The 33-year-old Akhtar, who was out for fitness and disciplinary reasons, returned to the squad in August for a Twenty20 tournament in Canada and heads a five-man strong pace attack for the West Indies series.

“Besides Akhtar, they have (Umar) Gul, and backed by a strong batting line-up they are a very tough team, but if we compete well we can sneak a win in the first game for a good start,” said Gayle.

“We know it will be a tough challenge because Pakistan always play well in one-day cricket and since we have not played here and Pakistan has the home advantage.”

Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 2-1 here last year, while it shared a two-match series against archrival India the year before.

West Indies is on a high after Gayle led an all-star team to a comfortable ten-wicket win over England in the Stanford Twenty20 finale in Antigua earlier this month, earning millions of dollars in the process. — Agencies

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