Southampton: Pakistan started their World Cup campaign with a stumble, displaying their unpredictable characteristics as they slumped to a paltry 105 all out at Trent Bridge and West Indies cruised to an easy victory.
Pakistan’s batting crashed before the pace of a 22-year-old pacer Oshane Thomas, who returned with figures of 4-27, backed by his skipper Jason Holder with three wickets for 42.
Pakistan’s innings lasted just 21.4 overs with Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam being their top scorers on 22 each. West Indies raced to victory by seven wickets with 218 deliveries to go, thus handing Pakistan their biggest defeat in World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.
Pakistan’s score is their second lowest in a World Cup, the first being when they were bowled out for 74 in 1992, ironically, again by West Indies. The only consolation for Pakistan will be that in 1992 they went on to win the World Cup despite that poor show.
Can Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad and his boys do what Imran Khan and his team did in 1992 by going for the kill in the coming matches? At least Sarfraz thinks so by declaring that his team will bounce back.
“If you lose the toss in these conditions, and lose wickets as well, it is hard to come back into the game,” he said. “We knew they would come hard with their pace bowlers, but our batting unit just didn’t do well today. We did not tackle the short balls well. We need to play positive cricket here. Although today was a bad day, I am confident my team will bounce back.”
How Sarfraz does this will be a wait-and-watch because the team have broken their record for consecutive defeats in completed ODIs. It was their 11th defeat after four defeats to England, five to Australia in the UAE, and one to South Africa. Their previous worst was 10 consecutive defeats between October 1987 and March 1988.
West Indies, through this emphatic victory, have announced their return to the top table and that they are here to win the World Cup. Chris Gayle’s 50 off 34 balls with six boundaries and three sixes was like rubbing salt into the wounds of Pakistan’s performance.
Skipper Holder is a happy man and is hoping to carry on this momentum.
“We got off to a really good start and got wickets with the new ball, which is what we ask of the guys,” he said. “We wanted to start with a win. It has been a long build-up to the tournament and we’ve been anxiously waiting for this first game. Good to get it out of the way.”
Sarfraz blamed the toss and also early start for the defeat. “I think the start is very crucial here. With a 10.30am start, things get very crucial for our team. That is why we wanted to bowl first. And then we lost too many wickets at the start ... and could not get back into the game.”
Now the skipper wants everyone in the team to forget this match, though the fans who came for the match are not going to forget it simply because they did not get their money’s worth. “I think we first need to back ourselves and not think too much about what happened today. That match is gone. We have players who can win the next match for us.”
After this huge defeat, knives are already out in the form of heavy criticisms. Should Pakistan lose the next match too, the call for sacking their chief selector Inzamam-Ul-Haq and coach Mickey Arthur, which the Pakistan Cricket Board noted as a rumour, could well turn out to be true.