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Monday, March 12, 2007

Preview: Pakistan vs West Indies, 13th March 2007

sabina park, jamaica cricket groundHow rapidly things change in the fickle world of one-day cricket – in less than a month, Australia has been almost completely diminished – at least they now look as beatable as any other good team. What has changed even more rapidly than that are the prospects of the two teams which meet in the inaugural match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.

Pakistan, for whom nothing could have gone right in the past couple of months have suddenly been uplifted out of their morass. Two victories in two matches, including a seven wicket win over top ranked South Africa; Inzamam-ul-haq couldn’t have asked for a better start to his team’s campaign. Don’t even bother telling the Pakistan captain that the two victories had come in just warm-up matches – Inzy’s team badly needed a morale booster and they have got it.

Someone else may though need the “It was just a warm-up match” excuse. Brian Lara’s team were handed a thrashing by India – after dismissing West Indies for all of 85 runs, India reached its target losing just the solitary wicket. It may have been just a practice match alright, but when that match is your last match before your first match in the World Cup, it matters. Don’t forget that Lara’s men had been soundly beaten by the Indians in a one-day series less than a month back. West Indies, which had been on an upswing this past one year, have been suddenly grounded.

Let’s look at another interesting bit of statistic – the hosts have had a terrible record in the inaugural matches of the previous World Cups, and Lara would be the last person to forget that bit. After all, West Indies had beaten hosts South Africa in the 2003 opener and it was Lara himself who had scored a fine century to bag the MOM award. The West Indian captain would be hoping to repeat this performance against Pakistan on Wednesday. What he wouldn’t want is to let the rest-of-history repeat itself too.

Players to look out for:
Chris Gayle, Brian Lara, Dwayne Bravo ( all West Indies)
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Rana Naved ( all Pakistan )
Pakistan vs West Indies, Group D ( 1st match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, West Indies)
Venue: Sabina Park, Jamaica
Match scheduled to begin at 14:30 hrs GMT

In India, catch the Windies - Pak match on Set Max from 7 pm. Of course, Mandira Bedi and the rest of Extraa Innings start off much earlier, at 5 pm.
Next match: Scotland vs Australia, Group A at Warner Park, St. Kitts & Nevis

* That picture above is of the Sabina Park, Jamaica - final preparations are on in full swing for the World Cup opener.

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