West Indies will face Pakistan in the opening match of their respective 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup campaigns. The two 2015 Cricket World Cup quarter-finalists are set to square off on May 31, 2019, at the 17,000-capacity Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
West Indies (42-30-2 World Cup record)
Under Captain Clive Lloyd, West Indies won the first two editions of the Cricket World Cup in 1975 and 1979. In 1983, they lost to India in the Final. They’ve regressed since then as they have made the semifinals only once and that was in 1996. West Indies didn’t make it past the quarterfinals in the last edition of the Cricket World Cup and they are looking to win one for the departing Chris Gayle.
The squad: Jason Holder (captain), Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell, and Shimron Hetmyer.
Odds from William Hill as of 5/22/19
Pakistan (40-29-2 World Cup record)
Pakistan made three consecutive trips to the Cricket World Cup semifinals in 1979, 1983 and 1987. They defeated England in 1992 Final and in 1999, they lost to Australia in the Final. The Green Shirts made the final four again in 2011 and in the most recent Cricket World Cup in 2015, they reached the quarterfinals.
The squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi
West Indies want to give Chris Gayle a fitting farewell. The “Universal Boss” earlier announced that the 2019 ICC World Cup will be his last international tour of duty with his country. For sure, he would want nothing short of going out with a bang. But while his team is good, they may not be good enough to win it all. Beating Pakistan is another story though.
Despite being just a qualifier in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup and not among the top cricket betting favorites, the West Indies probably have their best team in over a decade. During an ODI series against England last March, West Indies showed that they are very willing and able to keep up in high-scoring encounters and they were able to salvage a draw in that five-match series. They have also mastered the art of six-hitting, which I think is a strategy at the expense of the constant running of ones and twos. These mean that they won’t run out of chases until all of the 10 wickets have fallen.
All-rounder Jason Holder is arguably the toughest cricketer in the world right now. The West Indies captain has carried his team back to respectability in all the three formats. Likewise, Andre Russell has played the same role. Russell is coming off an IPL Tournament where we saw perhaps the best display of consistent boundary hitting. This side is almost certain to win a few games at death.
On the other hand, Pakistan has shown a great deal of improvement in their tactical approach to playing ODI cricket after a poor outing in their tour of New Zealand last year. Although they are the ICC Champions in the ODI format, their inconsistent play could suffer in a tournament format that is heavy on constant grinding and light on one-off knockouts. Pakistan is low on confidence right now after the way they have been losing games to England and Australia. Pakistan lost their last ODI to Australia by a margin of 5-0. They probably don’t have enough bowling depth to limit other teams to manageable totals.
Batsman Babar Azam and seamer Hasan Ali are two young players who stand out for Pakistan in this World Cup. The fortunes of the Green Shirts could lie on the shoulders of the 24-year old Azam and the 25-year old Ali. Fakhar Zaman is capable of the big centuries that are now required for big ODI totals.
Man for man, I think that West Indies’ batting line-up is better. They have good bowlers who can play well in English conditions. I think the key is to have bowlers who can take wickets and I think they have that.
Prediction: West Indies