West Indian captain Chris Gayle said 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.
Gayle hoped his team would be up to the challenge.
"Besides Akhtar, they have (Umer) 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 have, they have the home advantage."
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 2-1 here last year, while they shared a two-match series against archrivals India the year before.
West Indies are 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.
Gayle hoped the newcomers could build on that success.
"Beating England was nice and we worked really hard for that. Now it's a new series and every series is important for us, no matter who the opponent is, and winning this one will give us more confidence," he said.
"We have some exciting newcomers like Lionel Baker, who played in Canada, then we have Shawn Findlay and Brendan Nash, so these guys have an opportunity to prove themselves against a good opponent."
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik hoped his pace attack led by Akhtar would deliver.
"Akhtar is bowling in good rhythm. It is important that he performs, but we have a balanced attack, and it will be important that we play to our potential," said Malik, who shrugged off talk of being under extra pressure as captain.
"I am as relaxed as ever and there is no captaincy pressure on me. I have my own way and always look for improvement in all areas," said Malik, whose captaincy is under review by Pakistan Cricket Board.
Appointed captain last year, Malik's tenure ends next month.
Pakistan will chose between batsman Khalid Latif and all-rounder Fawad Alam as a replacement for experienced Mohammad Yousuf who last week joined the Indian Cricket League.
Yousuf, initially selected in the 15-man squad for the series, was banned from all cricket in Pakistan on joining the unrecognised league.