Windies look for ideal start to World Cup campaign

Guyana Chronicle
March 13, 2007

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – After the spectacular opening ceremony for Cricket World Cup 2007 on Sunday night the stage is set for the first match of the tournament, pitting West Indies and Pakistan at Sabina Park today.

As the countdown continued to the first ball, there was a huge sense of anticipation for the opening match as West Indies set out to become to first host team to win the event.

Both West Indies and Pakistan had busy schedules yesterday, travelling down from Montego Bay in the morning before going off to practise at Kensington Park in the evening.

The two teams are coming off contrasting results in the warm-up matches.

While Pakistan completed victories in both their games, West Indies suffered an embarrassing nine-wicket defeat against India in which they were routed for a meagre 85.

But, according to captain Brian Lara, that performance should serve as a wake-up call.

“It’s given us something that we needed before such a big tournament. You wouldn’t like to have such a farce on a cricket pitch,” Lara told reporters.

“It’s good that has happened before the tournament started. The guys have resurrected their confidence. We are looking forward to getting out there.”

A near sell-out crowd is anticipated to pack the renovated Sabina Park and all home town fans will be rooting for the West Indies.

“I know it’s going to be a big crowd. It’s a big occasion for all West Indians,” Lara said.

“We just have to put whatever little aberration we had a few days ago and just concentrate on what we’ve got tomorrow.”

Pakistan have enjoyed an impressive record against West Indies and although they are unpredictable at times, they are not to be underestimated.

“Pakistan is a very good team, a team that we have great respect for,” Lara said.

“They’ve got exciting players, a lot of match-winners. We will dissect each and every player and know exactly what we want to achieve.”

Pakistan have won eight of their last ten matches against West Indies, which included a 3-1 series win on the sub-continent late last year.

Coach Bob Woolmer is not reading too much into it.

“I like to put all the results behind us but inevitably the team will subconsciously have that in their minds,” Woolmer said

“But we have to make sure we’re not in any way complacent when we get stuck into the game tomorrow.

“If there’s any subconscious complacency, we’re going to knock it out of them this (last) evening.”

The teams (from):

WEST INDIES – Brian Lara (captain), Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard Dwayne Smith, Denesh Ramdin, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell Corey Collymore, Devon Smith Lendl Simmons.

PAKISTAN – Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Imran Nazir, Mohammed Hafeez, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Azhar Mahmood, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved, Umar Gul, Iftikhar Anjum, Danish Kaneria, Yasir Arafat.

Umpires: Billy Bowden, Simon Taufel. TV replays: Brian Jerling.

Match referee: Chris Broad