Dubai [UAE]: All-rounder Andre Russell’s spell was short and sharp in the West Indies’ opening ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan despite bowling just three overs.
Oshane Thomas was rightly adjudged Player of the Match for his 4/27, but it was Russell’s 3-1-4-2 figures that set the tone and got the Caribbean side off to a brilliant start on Friday evening at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
“We didn’t just bowl aggressive, we bowled good areas. The plan was the fuller you bowl on these sort of wickets, you are going to get driven through covers, you are going to get hit over your head,” ICC quoted Russell as saying.
“Hard lengths and these guys weren’t taking on the short balls. So if you can bowl a short ball and it is not above the head and it is a dot ball, why not bowl another one? I bowled a maiden and all balls were short,” he added.
Pakistan had no answer to West Indies’ bouncers. Russell’s yorker to Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed revealed the Jamaican’s abilities as a thinking bowler. The West Indies captain Jason Holder got Sarfaraz caught behind cheaply for eight, leaving Pakistan sinking at 75/7.
Thomas returned and bowled out Pakistan for 105 inside 22 overs. West Indies chased down the target within 14 overs and registered their first win by seven wickets.
“I was just trying to playing a mind game on him (Sarfaraz), but he did well to keep it out. Bowling four short balls and fifth one I tell the skipper, ‘Skip, I am going to bowl him the yorker.’ He said why you are going to change your plan. I said I believe that I can knock him over. Naturally, if you bowl every ball short, they would expect… I thought I would catch him off guard,” Russell said.
Explaining variations while bowling bouncer, Russell noted, “If the ball is slightly wide, you have to get your arms around to pull. So that can create a simple mistake – getting caught at the fine leg or on the boundary and then, game over for that batsman.”
The Holder-led side used their game sense as well while handling Russell. The 29-year-old was removed from attacking so that he could manage a recurrent knee problem.
“I’ve been struggling with my knee for the last couple of months. When they were nine wickets down, I just ran off to get a bit of treatment. I’m not worried. I’ve got five days until our next game against Australia so I’m definitely going to do some work on it. I’ll be fully fit by then,” he added.
Having completed the win in double-quick time, the West Indies have received a net run rate boost. The team sit atop the table with +5.802 and two points. The Caribbean side considered a dark horse, perhaps, suggested that they can be contenders for the crown.
West Indies will next meet the defending champions Australia on June 6 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.