West Indies arrived in England with an air of optimism around them. The hopes were that their good performance against England earlier this year was the beginning of a renaissance. The way they played in their very first match of the World Cup suggests there may be a lot of truth to that.
The Windies hammered Pakistan in a comprehensive 7-wicket win. The biggest turning point of the game came even before the start of the match when Jason Holder won the toss and decided to put Pakistan in to bat first. The decision paid off handsomely as the four-pronged pace attack of West Indies bundled out their Asian opponents for just 105.
Young pacer Oshane Thomas starred with four wickets while skipper Holder got three. Andre Russell too chipped in with a couple and it was Sheldon Cottrell who got the very first breakthrough of the innings. What undid Pakistan wasn't the swing in the air, expected due to the presence of the clouds above and the main reason why Holder chose to bowl first, but the bounce.
Most of the wickets Pakistan lost were due to their batsmen being unable to cope with extra bounce generate by the likes of Russell and Thomas. In reply, the West Indians decided to hunt down the target with severity and Chris Gayle went all guns blazing after the bowlers. Shai Hope also joined him at the other end but was dismissed going for a big stroke when the team score was 36. Darren Bravo joined Gayle but his weakness against the rising ball came back to haunt the Trinidadian as Mohammad Amir got him caught at second slip after he edged a delivery that bounced sharply.
Nicholas Pooran and Chris Gayle were in no mood to relent and the 'Universe Boss' kept flagellating the Pakistani bowlers even though he was starting to have back problems. When he reached his 50 off just 33 balls, West Indies were just 30 runs away from a win. While Gayle got out on the very next delivery, Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer continued to take chances and got their team to a win in only the 14th over.
For West Indies, today's performance was perfect as most of their bowlers contributed. Despite the absence of Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, the former dropped and the latter injured, the Windies bowling was brilliant. For Pakistan, this may well be a day off. Conditions are going to be better in other matches and the sort of mercurial team it is, it is likely that it will bounce back.