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Windies quicks light up Cricket World Cup win over Pakistan

By STEVE DOUGLASMay 31, 2019
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West Indies' bowler Andre Russell, left, celebrates with Darren Bravo taking the wicket of Pakistan's Haris Sohail during a Cricket World Cup match at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham, England, Friday, May 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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West Indies' bowler Andre Russell, left, celebrates with Darren Bravo taking the wicket of Pakistan's Haris Sohail during a Cricket World Cup match at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham, England, Friday, May 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Forty years after West Indies’ quick bowlers blazed their way to another Cricket World Cup title, the team has another pace attack that is striking fear into opponents on the sport’s biggest stage.

Pakistan certainly couldn’t handle the barrage at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

Underlining its status as a dangerous outsider, West Indies powered to a seven-wicket win on a bombardment of short bowling that helped skittle out Pakistan for 105 in 21.4 overs — the team’s second lowest total in the history of the tournament.

Pace accounted for all 10 wickets — offspinner Ashley Nurse didn’t get to bowl a single ball — as West Indies’ approach of pitching it short and often at the body dumbfounded the Pakistanis, leading to some dubious shot selection.

“Our style was just to be aggressive,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder, a key member of that fast-bowler unit with figures of 3-42.

The Windies needed just 13.4 overs to reach the victory target, with Chris Gayle showing as much aggression as the quicks. The 39-year-old opener blasted a 34-ball 50, featuring three sixes and six fours, and Nicholas Pooran finished off Pakistan with a six to end on 34 not out.

If it was another alarming result for Pakistan, which has now lost 11 straight completed ODIs, it was something of a statement win for West Indies as they go in search of a third 50-over world title — and first since those glory days in the 1970s.

Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Colin Croft made up one of the most fearsome attacks world cricket has ever seen when the West Indies won the 1979 World Cup. The “Famous Four” tag was well earned.

The class of 2019 has a long, long way to go to match those great names of old but this was a good start. Especially from Oshane Thomas, who hails from the same Melbourne club in inner Kingston as Holding and Courtney Walsh, after returning match-best figures of 4-27.

“I still watch the ‘Fire in Babylon’ video,” a smiling Thomas said, referring to the highly respected film about the West Indies team from the 1970s.

Gun bowler Sheldon Cottrell set the tone for the West Indies’ short-ball barrage when he enticed an attempted hook from Imam-ul-Haq (2), who gloved down the leg side to give wicketkeeper Shai Hope the first of his four catches. Cottrell, who has a military background, celebrated by pacing back down the wicket and making a salute.

Then allrounder Andre Russell, making only his third ODI appearance since the 2015 World Cup, made a key impact as the first change. He got a wicket with his fifth ball when Fakhar Zaman dragged a short ball onto his own stumps for 22 and also did for Haris Sohail (8), sending down a series of short balls before bowling one slightly fuller and getting the edge to Hope.

Russell bowled only three overs and picked up his two wickets for four runs.

The Pakistani batsmen were in two minds about how to deal with the short-pitched bowling, routinely ducking out of the way instead of going for the hook shot. Pakistan’s loud and boisterous green-clad fans booed when wides weren’t signaled by the umpires for the balls that ripped over the batsmen’s heads.

After Babar Azam slashed Thomas to Hope for 22 and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (8) mistimed a high leg-side glance and tickled a delivery from Holder again to Hope, the Pakistanis were in serious trouble on 75-5.

They lost their next three wickets for six runs off 14 balls and Pakistan just scraped into three figures.

Gayle took control of the reply, unleashing some fearsome shots including two straight sixes off the back foot. He walked off gingerly after swiping Mohammad Amir to Shadab Khan to end his entertaining salvo, a long-standing back complaint having flared up.

In-form Hope (0) and Darren Bravo (11) went cheaply, before Pooran guided the Windies to the victory target just before 2 p.m., the match lasting 35.2 overs and not even 3½ hours.

Several hundred fans didn’t even get to see half of it as they were forced to queue for up to two hours at the ticket collection office. World Cup organisers said they would issue full refunds to those who were “impacted by the delays.”

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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