Richly Deserved: Cricket World Cup Report, Day 1

WEST INDIES 241 FOR 9 DEFEATED PAKISTAN 187 ALL OUT BY 54 RUNS

After a spectacular opening cermony on Sunday in which West Indies legend Sir Garfield Sobers opened the tournament and present captain Brian Lara took the athlete’s oath, amidst fireworks and dancers, it was finally time for the batsmen to head to the wickets and the clash of the titans in Group D, the West Indies and Pakistan.

Sabina Park was the setting for the first World Cup game in the Caribbean.

In cricket, the coin toss is very important. Pakistan won the toss and seeing that there was still some moisture left from the morning dew, captain Inzamam-ul-Haq elected to send the West Indies to bat first.

And it seemed like a good idea at the start. The West Indies’ opening partnership was broken up in the third over for just seven runs. Chris Gayle walked off after scoring just two and you could sense tension in the fans, especially after a dismal warm-up match performance against India where they scored just 85 runs.

However, Ramnaresh Sarwan and the guy with my favourite name in all of cricket, Shivnarine Chanderpaul sent a comforting message to the partisan crowd … There will be no Calypso Collapso on this day.

That partnership added 57 runs before Chanderpaul’s wicket was lost, and the Windies were back on track.

Iftikhar Anjum and Mohammed Hafeez did their best to keep Pakistan’s total manageable through the middle of their innings. But then came the partnership that changed the game.

Marlon Samuels started smacking the ball all over the place, with Danish Kaneria the victim of many of his fours and one of his sixes. Captain Brian Lara took a few balls to warm up then proceeded to become, well, Brian Lara, among the best batsmen of his generation. Their partnership would produce 91 before Lara’s dismissal for 37. By the time Samuels was out, he had produced the 2007 World Cup’s first half-century, ending with 63.

The fact that the Windies had wickets to spare and that allowed their batsmen to go to town on Pakistan’s bowlers. Sure at that point, mistakes would be made and wickets would be lost, but young Dwayne Smith made 32 off just 15 balls including five boundaries and another youngster, Dwayne Bravo added 16. Even the final batsman, Corey Collymore, made eight off the two balls he faced and ended the innings with an exclamation-point six to give the West Indies the 241 for 9.

Pakistan, who has had a very difficult run-up to this World Cup, got a rough start, Imran Nazir, gone for six. Younis Khan, gone for nine. 17 for two. When Mohammad Hafeez was ousted, Pakistan was 39 for three.

The bushy bearded one, Inzamam-ul-Haq made his way to the wicket. The commentators were questioning why he would be batting this far down the order. For my money, he’s one of the premiere middle-order batsmen in cricket. And he showed why. With a patient, sure stroke, Inzamam brought Pakistan back into the game. The 60 partnership with Mohammad Yousuf gave them a chance. Only problem was, they were too slow scoring runs. So by the time they were out, there was very little left for Pakistan. Credit though should go to Shoaib Malik who made a nice 62 off 54 balls.

The man of the match went to Smith, whose batting was complemented with his three-wicket bowling performance. Honorable mention goes to Bravo, who also took three wickets, including the best bowl of the day, a delivery to Naved-ul-Hasan that swung past the bat and crushed the middle stump of the wicket. I could watch a ball like that over and over again.

So the carnival is under way. On day two, two-time defending champion Australia open their tournament against one of the best of the minnows, ICC Trophy champion Scotland (Which in a way, seems like a game between the champions of the NBA and NBADL but you never know).

Canada also plays Kenya but to avoid a personal conflict of interest, not to mention conflict, I’ll hold my thoughts on that one for a day or two.

‘Till tomorrow.

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