On a Trent Bridge pitch that has been best friends with batsmen, the Pakistani batters crumbled like a pack of cards. They were bundled out for by 105 – their second-lowest total in World Cup history and the lowest at this venue. Add to it, a super-smart strategy from the West Indies bowlers. Pakistan never really took off from the get-go. From having to qualify for the tournament to bouncing out their opposition, the Caribbean boys kickstarted their campaign with a bang.
Pakistan were coming on the back of 9 successive defeats and a solitary game that ended in ‘No Result’ in ODIs. They would’ve hoped to turn things around going into the World Cup. But with a solid performance from the West Indies, they’ve now ended up recording their 10th loss in a row.
Short, shorter, shortest
The plan was simple. It is no secret that Pakistan has a history of being uncomfortable with the short ball. And the West Indies captain was already thinking of exploiting their weakness at the toss. Why wouldn’t he? From Sheldon Cottrell to Andre Russell, from Oshane Thomas to Jason Holder himself – every single bowler possesses the guile and strength to relentlessly bowl short-pitched deliveries. And they did just that. The Pakistani openers started cautiously until Imam-ul-Haq gloved one to the keeper in the third over. Fakhar Zaman followed suit in the sixth, succumbing to an Andre Russell bouncer.
All hopes were on Pakistan’s best batsman, Babar Azam. Cottrell continued to pepper him with short balls, but he was watchful. Haris Sohail too faced the wrath of short deliveries from Russell, but it was the one with raw pace that eventually got him. Pakistan were tottering at 45/3 in 10 overs, desperately needing some damage control with Babar and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Babar’s reprieve in vain
When you drop your opposition’s best batsman, you know you’ve committed a crime bigger than the biggest. Carlos Brathwaite dug one short and outside off in the 11th over and Babar went for the slash towards point. It was an easy catch, only to pop out of Shimron Hetmyer’s hands. West Indies would’ve hoped they didn’t have to pay a heavy price. And they didn’t. Babar was dismissed in the 14th over to a brilliant Thomas outswinger and an equally brilliant flying catch by Shai Hope behind the stumps.
Pakistan needed a hero-like innings from their captain, but even he didn’t have any answers to West Indies’ tactics. Sarfaraz was adjudged not out for an LBW off Holder, but a smart review from Hope sent the skipper back in single digits. It was all downhill from there, as the Pakistani batting was wrapped up inside 22 overs. By the time the innings ended, West Indies were already thinking about boosting their Net Run Rate with an early finish.
Oshane’s day out
The gap between Oshane’s landing foot and the crease in the 20th over was so big, that an entire lorry could’ve passed between them. Yet, the burly fast bowler was anything but ordinary. Thomas bowled a fiery spell that his predecessors would be proud of – 5.4 overs, 27 runs, 4 wickets. He was given a no-ball once again in his next over, but that could just be attributed to a poor umpiring decision.
Universe Boss delivers
You can’t keep Chris Gayle out of action, can you? West Indies looked like they could do the job without breaking a sweat, especially with the Universe Boss at the top. With his usual stroke-making on display, vice-captain Gayle got off to a flyer and scored a brisk fifty (6 fours, 3 sixes). Mohammed Amir chipped in with three wickets at the top, but it was hardly a matter of concern. Windies raced away to glory inside 14 overs with 7 wickets to spare.