In a meeting of two of the competitions’ most unpredictable teams, the West Indies clinically dismantled Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, on Day 2 of the Cricket World Cup.
The West Indies’ bowling attack was ruthless as they bowled out Pakistan for 105 in just 21.4 overs. It was a spectacular performance by the West Indies, who only needed 13.4 to achieve their winning total and win by seven wickets! The entire match lasted 35.2 overs, not even enough overs for one innings, such was their dominance.
The Men in Maroon took advantage of a pitch with uncharacteristically steep bounce which more closely resembled a tennis court.
Sheldon Cottrell bowled superbly with the new ball and his left-arm out swingers against Pakistan’s lefties always looked dangerous. He took the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq (2 runs off 11 balls) who unfortunately knicked a ball behind to Shai Hope.
Pakistan did not seem too troubled at the beginning, and after the first five overs they had been scoring at more than six runs per over.
However, it was the sixth over when the onslaught began. The usually reliable Fakhar Zaman, who had at least made a start, was bowled by Andre Russell in his first over. And from here, the runs started to dry up and run rate started to rapidly drop.
DreRuss then another wicket in quick succession with Haris Sohail being caught behind by Hope for 8 runs off 11 balls.
Rather than being a flat batting wicket upon which to build a massive total, it was a graveyard for Pakistan’s batsmen.
Man of the Match Oshane Thomas (4-27 from 5.4 overs) took the mantle from DreRuss with the important wicket of joint-top scorer, Babar Azam, for 22 off 33 balls.
Once Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was caught behind by Hope off the impressive bowling of the Windies captain Jason Holder (3-42 from 5 overs), it did not seem like there was anyway back for Pakistan.
Mohammed Hafeez, a player of skill and experience, disappointingly gave his wicket away for 16 off 24 balls, with Oshane Thomas claiming his second victim.
Pakistan did not seem to know how to play the short pitch deliveries and were really badly exposed. When Shadab Khan tried to ready himself for it, he was caught on the crease lbw for a golden duck. The remainder of the tail fell cheaply, apart from an 11-ball, 18-run innings from Wahab Riaz.
With the West Indies only needing 106 to win. The game seemed a foregone conclusion. But the partisan crowd in Nottingham got behind the Pakistan bowlers and maintained good spirits throughout.
Mohammed Amir was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers as he took all three of their wickets for 26 runs from six overs. With the Pakistan fans getting behind him with their thunderous roars, he ran in like a gazelle and he looked very threatening with his left-arm pace bowling.
Chris Gayle smashed a 34-ball fifty before spurning a ball in the air which was taken by Shadab Khan. A talent to watch out for is Nicolas Pooran, who came in at four with a handy 19-ball 34-run cameo.
After their abysmal performance, Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said: “If you lose the toss in these conditions you will lose early wickets and it’s hard to come back into the game…I think we have to bat positively, but we didn’t do it well today. It was a bad day for us. I’m very confident my team will bounce back.”
It could not have been a starker contrast to how Jason Holder was feeling. The West Indies captain, who has really grown as a leader of this West Indies team said: “We got new-ball wickets, which is what we asked the guys, and we never looked back from there.
“Andre Russell is an impact player; it’s really good to see him bowl like he did today…You need to get wickets in one-day cricket and that’s an area we’ve pinpointed.”
And tellingly, Holder said that they have not come just to make up the numbers: “We’ve come here to win this World Cup but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. I want us to enjoy our cricket, play fearless cricket and make the people back home proud.”
With this impressive victory, the West Indies have staked their claim as one of the favourites to lift the World Cup in mid-July.
Pakistan do not need to be so disheartened. They were thrashed by the West Indies in their first game at the 1992 World Cup, which they lost by 10 wickets. They then went on to win the the whole competition.
All images courtesy of the Twitter account of the ICC Cricket World Cup