NOTTINGHAM, England – West Indies fast bowlers unleashed a hostile pace salvo to stun a shell-shocked Pakistan. Then Chris Gayle’s 33-ball fifty inflicted further misery as the Caribbean side made a winning start to their World Cup campaign with a seven-wicket triumph today.
Opting to bowl first on a fresh pitch under overcast skies at Trent Bridge, the Windies needed just under two hours to bundle Pakistan out for a dismal 105 off 21.4 overs – their second lowest-ever score in World Cup history.
Rookie fast bowler Oshane Thomas, in only his 10th One-Day International, grabbed four for 27 in a Man-of-the-Match performance while captain Jason Holder picked up three for 42 and Andre Russell, two for four.
Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam, both of whom made 22, were two of just four players to reach double figures, as West Indies struck at regular intervals leaving Pakistan unable to arrest the carnage.
In reply, veteran opener Gayle struck exactly 50 to set the tone while fellow left-hander Nicholas Pooran hit a breezy 19-ball unbeaten 34 as West Indies reached their target in the 14th over, to notch their first points of the tournament.
Gayle belted six fours and three sixes, posting 36 off 27 balls for the first wicket with Shai Hope (11) and a further 31 for the third wicket with Pooran.
His first two boundaries were streaky shots to third man off pacer Hassan Ali in the second over but there was no lack of conviction when he clubbed back-to-back leg side sixes in the bowler’s next over.
He lost Hope in the fifth over caught at mid-off attempting to loft seamer Mohammad Amir (3-26) over the top and then watched as the out-of-form Darren Bravo nicked one to Babar Azam at second slip in the seventh over without scoring.
Gayle reached his 53rd ODI half-century in the 11th over before holing out a few balls later, lofting Amir to point with West Indies already in sight of victory at 77 for three.
Pooran, batting at number four, then assumed responsibility for the innings as he saw the Windies home in an unbroken 31-run, fourth-wicket stand with Shimron Hetmyer (seven not out).
Pooran struck four fours and ended the contest in style by swatting left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz over mid-wicket for the last of his two sixes.
Earlier, there was no sign of the debacle to unfold when the left-handed Fakhar whipped Holder off his legs and cleared the square leg boundary in the second over.
But left-arm speedster Sheldon Cottrell got the breakthrough when he claimed Imam-ul-Haq for two with the score on 17 in the third over, caught by wicketkeeper Hope down the leg side gloving a pull.
Russell then turned the game on its head with a incisive three-over burst which cost just four runs and yielded the key wickets of Fakhar and Haris Sohail for eight.
Bowling with pace and extracting generous bounce, he first accounted for Fakhar, the left-hander bowled in the sixth over after edging a pull onto the grill of his helmet and the ball rebounding on to the stumps.
Russell then struck again in the 10th over when he prised out Sohail to a catch at the wicket, the left-hander sparring at one which bounced sharply at 45 for three.
Perhaps West Indies’ only blemish came in the 11th over when Hetmyer put down a simple catch at point when Babar, on 12, slapped seamer Carlos Brathwaite square.
And at 62 for three in the 13th over, Pakistan still looked like rescuing the innings especially with Babar still at the crease. However, once the right-hander nicked a leaden-footed drive at a wide ball from Thomas in the following over, the last seven wickets tumbled for 44 runs.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed followed for eight in the 17th over, caught down the leg-side on review off Holder and in the same over, Imad Wasim was taken at slip by Gayle running back after top-edging a pull, to leave Pakistan on 77 for six.
Three balls later in the next over with a single run added, Shadab Khan stayed back when he should have been forward and was hit in front by Thomas for a first ball ‘duck’ and Hassan Ali gave Holder his third wicket in the next over when he holed out to Cottrell at mid-off.
Thomas then polished off the tail, knocking over Mohammad Hafeez for 16 and Amir for three in successive overs.
West Indies next take on Australia on June 6. (CMC)