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The Electronic Telegraph Pakistan v West Indies, Group B
Martin Johnson - 16 May 1999

Quite like days of Grace and fervour

Pakistan (229-8) bt West Indies (202) by 27 runs

The 1999 World Cup will doubtless throw up its share of surprises, but nothing will be more startling than the sight of ticket touts at Bristol. Good grief, when Gloucestershire get wind of potential spectators they send a chauffeur-driven car round to fetch them, but for yesterday's World Cup match between Pakistan and the West Indies, there has not been a crowd like it at the County Ground since punters were being charged 3d to get in if W G wasn't playing, and 6d if he was.

The vast majority of support from the capacity 8,000 crowd was for Pakistan, although it was comparatively silent early on when their batsmen struggled in difficult conditions. The decibel count, however, rose steadily as Pakistan recovered to 229 for eight, and a jubilant ground invasion followed when the West Indies were bowled out for 202.

However, there were an awful lot of supporters from both sides unable to get a ticket and a far more logical venue would have been Edgbaston. So much for the ECB's lofty promise to take this World Cup to a wider audience.

Pakistan's superior depth in bowling meant the West Indies were heavily reliant on Brian Lara, but though Lara creamed the first two deliveries he faced through the covers for four, his ninth ball, an attempted legside clip off Abdul Razzaq, resulted in a complete miscue to cover. Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 77 from 96 balls but with wickets falling regularly around him, the West Indies never established a meaningful partnership.

The Pakistani contingent in the crowd was rarely more animated than when Shoaib Akhtar, by some margin the world's fastest bowler, was in action and the delivery which clipped the top of Sherwin Campbell's stumps was, to all intents and purposes, a 95 mph off-break.

Campbell had earlier hit Shoaib for six but as this was from an attempted pull which flew off the top edge and over the slips, it frightened more than delighted him. Shoaib very nearly conceded another six from nothing more than a fend away shot from Ridley Jacobs, the edge this time clearing the wicketkeeper and bouncing once before clearing the rope.

Pakistan have never been the most conventional of teams and if there was a good reason for opting to bat first on a dank, bowler-friendly morning, it was difficult to work out what it could have been. The West Indies were certainly not unhappy about it - apart from Keith Arthurton, perhaps, who twisted an ankle cutting off a single on the soft outfield and later had to bat with a runner.

It looked a mistake when Pakistan were 42 for four in the 19th over, with Courtney Walsh and Mervyn Dillon - the latter with consecutive deliveries - sharing all four wickets. This was a far cry from Melbourne 1992, when these two sides last met in a World Cup match, and only two wickets fell in the entire game.

Conditions were much better for batting in that match (the West Indies made 221 for 0 to win) thanks largely to the Australian Cricket Board's curious decision to hold the competition in mid-summer. The ECB, however, are made of more innovative stuff and, having gone to all that trouble in commissioning the Duckworth-Lewis system, are blowed if they are going to hold the event in anything resembling sunshine.

The low point for Pakistan came when Izamamam-ul-Haq top-edged an attempted pull off Dillon to be caught, first ball, by the wicketkeeper to leave them 42 for four in the 19th over, but it was their good fortune that the West Indies attack had no reliable fifth bowler.

Pakistan were thus able to re-build cautiously and although Dillon temporarily halted the revival by returning to have Ijaz lbw with the first ball of his second spell, Wasim's entrance was perfectly timed to coincide with bowling that almost had him drowning in his own saliva.

Wasim hit two sixes and four fours in his 43 off 29 balls and the West Indies' ``fifth'' bowler - a cobbling together of flighted filth from Jimmy Adams, Ricardo Powell, and Arthurton - was plundered for a total of 83 runs.

The West Indies also donated a total of 23 wides and, as an added bonus, Curtly Ambrose's final two overs cost 23 after going for only 13 off his first eight.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk