Windies, Pakistan set for explosive Cup opener

Published: Monday, March 12, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Kingston:Hosts West Indies and unpredictable Pakistan, two teams equally blessed with the same explosive potential, fittingly open the 2007 World Cup here on Tuesday at Sabina Park.

The two sides have fought some epic battles in the past, including twice being involved in one-wicket victories - in 1975 when West Indies won, and in 1987 when the Pakistanis triumphed.

No two players demonstrate the volatility of the two sides like the two captains - Brian Lara of West Indies and Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan - both of whom made their debut appearances in World Cup cricket in the same year.

It was 1992, and while Pakistan emerged champions, West Indies bowed out early which is something Lara hopes will not happen this year, although he acknowledges the unpredictable nature of his side.

"This is a team that over the past few years has beaten everyone else and we have played some very good cricket, but we have been unpredictable," he told reporters on the eve of the opening ceremony.

"I don't think people should be so sarcastic about this team."

The unpredictability reared its ugly head as recently as Friday, when India dismissed the hosts for 85 and clinched a morale-boosting nine-wicket win in their final warm-up.

"We talked about getting our act together," Lara said. We tend to be unpredictable, this was not a one-off, and it is something we are trying to stamp out."

"I'd prefer it if we were very consistent and not unpredictable, but the pressure of the situation sometimes gets to the team."

Pakistan won both their warm-up matches this week, but Inzamam is not reading too much into those successes.

"That can happen at any time and it doesn't mean we will underestimate the West Indies side," Inzamam said. "We will just play the game as it comes."

The Pakistan captain is not too perturbed about loss of pace spearheads Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif through injury, nor the uncertain nature of the side's preparations.

"There have been problems in the past as far as some injuries are concerned, but regarding preparations everything is in order and the team is looking forward to this World Cup," Inzamam said.

"Pakistan has played before without these two bowlers, and Asif has only been around the team for about a year.

"It is a loss for the Pakistan team, but we have enough good bowlers to continue without them."

West Indies have won five of the seven World Cup matches played between the two, and will be hoping this works in their favour, as well as having beaten Pakistan in both their previous one-day internationals in Jamaica.

Almost 19 years to the day, West Indies beat Pakistan by 47 runs thanks to 109 not out from Gus Logie, and they won their second clash by four wickets, with Lara scoring 114.

But the West Indies go into the tournament knowing that in the history of the World Cup, no host nation has ever been crowned champions.


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