West Indies played down injury concerns surrounding 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 crucial 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 1975 and 1979 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 their second group game against Australia next 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 signs. We’ve got five days to see how they pull up in the next couple days.”
"The aggression comes out right as I bound. The aggression, the anger, everything loads up."@Russell12A explains what goes through his head when he lets rip a 90 mph bouncer.#CWC19 pic.twitter.com/WbHzJhr8is— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) May 31, 2019
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.
“But we just want to be aggressive with whoever we’re playing against. It’s just something that we need to do in order to pick up wickets.
“I think with the 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, trying to get wickets.”
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, obviously 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.
Mohammad Amir’s three-wicket burst spared Pakistan abject humiliation but a fixture against favourites England on Monday in Nottingham does not augur well for the 1992 winners.
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