West Indies demolish Pakistan by 7 wickets
West Indies produced a blistering bowling display to crush Pakistan by seven wickets and begin their World Cup campaign with an emphatic victory at Trent Bridge.
The two-time champions bowled Pakistan out for just 105 in 21.4 overs – their second lowest total in World Cup history.
All 10 wickets fell to seam with the West Indies bowlers quick and hostile in front of a crowd vociferously in support of Pakistan in Nottingham.
Oshane Thomas took 4-27, captain Jason Holder 3-42 and Andre Russell a brilliant 2-4 in three overs as only two Pakistan batsmen passed 20.
Chris Gayle smashed 50 from 34 balls with six sixes to give West Indies’ chase a quick start and, despite three wickets for Mohammad Amir, the win was sealed with 36.1 overs remaining when Nicholas Pooran smashed a huge six.
The bowling performance only strengthens the view that West Indies could be serious contenders to win their first 50-over World Cup since 1979, while it is a miserable start for Pakistan who won the Champions Trophy in England just two years ago.
Windies make ferocious start
West Indies are ranked eighth in the world in 50-over cricket and were grateful to rain for their qualification at the expense of Scotland in March 2018.
In recent years, it is their big-hitting batting which has caught the eye but here it was quick bowling reminiscent of West Indies sides of old that set pulses racing.
They repeatedly banged the ball in short and the Pakistan batsmen had no answer, with six wickets falling to short balls.
All-rounder Russell – one of West Indies star players who has returned to the team for this World Cup – was introduced early and bowled almost exclusively quick, short deliveries.
He dismissed opener Fakhar Zaman with a brutal delivery that hit the batsman’s grille and rebounded onto the stumps, and soon after had Haris Sohail caught behind when the batsman top-edged another bouncer.
Russell’s spell inspired the remaining bowlers to follow a similar method and Oshane Thomas had Babar Azam, who looked Pakistan’s best batsman in scoring 22, caught behind off another fast delivery.
That made the score 62-4 and Thomas and Holder took the remaining six wickets with only another 43 runs added to the total.
The only truly full delivery which claimed a wicket was the final one with Thomas clattering into Wahab Riaz’s stumps to complete the rout.
Pakistan fall flat in front of ‘home’ crowd
When the ball was hit by Pakistan batsmen it was roared to the boundary as the supporters chanted, blew horns, banged drums and waved flags.
The Pakistan batsmen seemed not to learn after repeated mistakes against the short ball but their fans still celebrated wildly when number 10 Wahab hit a six to take their total beyond 100.
Spread amongst the Pakistan supporters were pockets of West Indies fans, who sprung up in support of their team when a Pakistan wicket fell. They also urged on Russell during his hostile spell with one voice among a sea of Pakistan shirts shouting: “Yes Dre Russ! Shake him up”.
Amir’s name was chanted loudly during the West Indies chase after he gave his side slim hope but the majority of the near-capacity crowd – which was refunded in full if they entered after 10:30 BST following issues at the ticket collection points – was left disappointed with the result.
Despite less than 40 overs being bowled, the game was played against a backdrop of noise, excitement and colourful costumes.
The only potential negative for West Indies was the back injury Gayle looked to have sustained while batting, while Russell also received treatment at one stage.
Holder’s side’s next game is against Australia on Thursday while Pakistan play England on Monday, again at Trent Bridge.
West Indies captain Jason Holder: “Oshane Thomas is a good, young quick: we know he can be expensive at times but he’s a genuine wicket-taker and that’s a gamble worth taking. With such high totals you need wickets in one-day cricket.
“Chris Gayle started us off tremendously and it eases the pressure in a chase like this. I’ve seen a lot of teams mess up short chases but Chris imposed himself on it.
“We wanted to start with a win, we’ve been anxiously waiting for this first game and it’s good to get through it.
“We’ve definitely come to win this World Cup but I just want us to enjoy our cricket, play fearless cricket and make the fans back home proud.”
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed: “It was a bad day for us but I’m very confident my team will bounce back.
“It was good to see Mohammad Amir bowl well, but Chris Gayle knows how to play this type of cricket.
“The support in England is always excellent so thanks and carry on please.”