On Friday May 31st 2019, West Indies totally annihilated the Pakistanis at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in their opening World Cup fixture. Cruising to victory by 7 wickets, this was Pakistan’s heaviest defeat in World Cup Cricket history. The margin of defeat was 218 balls to spare after being bundled out for a paltry 105 on a pitch that had good pace and bounce for the fast bowlers on display. The West Indian bowling attack that day stuck to their game plan with short-pitched deliveries that had the Pakistani batters on the back foot. One must admit that the Pakistan batsmen looked scared as Oshane Thomas with his raw pace and skipper Jason Holder using his height to extract bounce from the surface took advantage.
Once Chris Gayle sticks around for the first 15 overs or so, you can bet your bottom dollar that runs will be flowing off the blade of that monstrous bat he utilizes.
Add to the fact that Andre Russell’s short 3 over burst with pace and aggression removed 2 of the Pakistani batsmen with short balls as well. He set the platform for Thomas and Holder to “roast” the middle and lower order of the opposition’s batting lineup. In reply, West Indies romped home to victory with the “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle smashing a quick 50 off 34 balls and then Trinidadian Nicholas Pooran in only his second ODI finishing it off in style with a 6 off pacer Wahab Riaz. Pooran made an unbeaten 34 off 18 balls. An emphatic victory over Pakistan was the ideal start for the men in maroon, but this win should be used as a platform to build momentum for tougher challenges ahead.
The West Indies next play current World Champs Australia on the same ground where they defeated Pakistan (Trent Bridge, Nottingham). If the same pitch was to be used for that upcoming game, expect the same aggressive tactics from the Aussie fast-bowlers as well. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are both wonderful pacers with their cunning use of the short deliveries. Both men were magnificent in the 2017/2018 Ashes series down under with this tactic. However, the West Indian batting lineup will no doubt be up to this great challenge. Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran are the core of the middle order. All are young, vibrant, rearing to go and will be up for it. Once Chris Gayle sticks around for the first 15 overs or so, you can bet your bottom dollar that runs will be flowing off the blade of that monstrous bat he utilizes.
If it so happens that the pitch is a flat one, you can expect runs galore at Trent Bridge. The Aussies have that record of conceding 481 runs last summer on that same ground. They will have to put that horror bowling display behind them. Nevertheless, the bowling attack for Australia that day did not include Starc and Cummins so a bit of relief there for the Aussies. David Warner will want to continue his purple patch that he showed in the recently concluded IPL, where he was the leading run scorer. Also he received the man of the match award in Australia’s first match against Afghanistan last Saturday, where he scored an undefeated 89. Former captain Steve Smith will also want to show why he is one of the best batsmen in the modern era.
Both men back for this World Cup after the one year ban imposed on them after the ball tampering fiasco last year March 2018 in Cape Town. Glenn Maxwell can be the finisher for them with his unorthodox hitting in the middle order. On paper, one would have to say Australia are the favorites, being current World Champs and all, but this West Indian team is full of flair, youth and passion mixed with the experience of Gayle and Russell. Cricket is the glorious game of uncertainties and one cannot underestimate any team as it is how one plays on the day. Let’s hope for a competitive match and await the battle of the Aussie pace against the Calypso batting.