Belfast Telegraph

Windies staying cool over Gayle and Russell injury worries after big win


Big hitter: Chris Gayle en route to breaking most sixes record
Big hitter: Chris Gayle en route to breaking most sixes record

By David Charlesworth

West Indies played down injury concerns over Chris Gayle and Andre Russell after the pair starred in a seven-wicket thrashing of Pakistan in their World Cup opener at Trent Bridge.

Russell took two wickets and his short-ball tactic was also implemented by Oshane Thomas and Jason Holder to excellent effect as Pakistan crumpled to 105 all out after 21.4 overs.

Gayle then took centre stage with a 33-ball half-century, breaking the tournament record for most sixes en route, as the '75 and '79 champions overhauled their target after only 82 balls.

However, Gayle was seen to grab his lower back shortly before his dismissal for exactly 50, when he gingerly departed, while Russell had left the field towards the end of Pakistan's innings with an injury to his left knee.

A Windies spokesperson revealed the issues are long-standing but both are expected to be in contention when they play Australia on Thursday at the same venue.

Windies captain Holder said of Gayle's situation: "The mere fact they sent the physio back off the field is promising. We've got five days to see how they pull up."

Thomas was the main beneficiary of the hostile bouncer ploy from the Windies as he took four for 27, while Holder himself chipped in with three wickets.

Holder said of his fellow fast bowler: "He's been excellent. It was great to see him running in and bowling fast. That's one thing we ask of him, just to be aggressive in those middle overs.

"I think with the modern-day game, if you are not picking wickets up throughout the innings you're going to struggle to contain teams. So we just want to be aggressive even if we give up a few runs up front."

Gayle was far from fluent, but back-to-back sixes off Hasan Ali were the highlight of a typically bruising innings and saw the left-handed powerhouse overtake AB de Villiers' record for the most sixes hit in the tournament's history.

Holder added: "When we batted it was a clinical performance as well, started nicely by Chris. He put the accelerator on them."

Pakistan, in recording their second worst total at the tournament, suffered their 11th successive one-day international defeat.

A fixture against favourites England on Monday in Nottingham does not augur well for the 1992 winners. Captain Sarfraz Ahmed said: "First we have to back ourselves and not think too much about what happened. That match is gone, but we have the type of players who can win the next match for us. Hopefully we will bounce back in the next matches."

ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, Trent Bridge

Pakistan 105 all out (21.4 overs): Fakhar 22, Babar 22, Thomas 4-27, Holder 3-42

West Indies 108-3 (13.4 overs): Gayle 50, Pooran 34*, Amir 3-26

West Indies won by seven wickets.

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