After Clive Lloyd’s great side won the first two World Cup titles in 1975 and 1979 and were stunned by India in 1983 final, the West Indies have struggled. They reached the semi-finals only in 1996. In the last two World Cups, they were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Pakistan, on the other hand, last lifted the trophy under the leadership of Imran Khan in 1992. Pakistan were runners-up in 1999, and have reached the semi-finals on four other occasions. They got as far as the quarter-finals in 2015.
In the all-time World Cup rankings, West Indies stand fifth. For the 2019 event, they had to come through the Qualifiers along with Afghanistan. They are currently eighth in the ICC ODI Rankings. Pakistan stand two places above them in the 6th spot.
Going by these figures, it would seem that there is nothing much to separate the West Indies and Pakistan as they clash in the World Cup 2019 on 31st May.
On the ground, the situation is far different. West Indies are a side of belligerent hitters, other batsmen with a touch of class, fine all-rounders, and top-quality pacemen, led by a captain mature beyond his years. They are the dark horses of this tournament.
Pakistan are a blend of experience and youth. They can, as always, spring a surprise or two but do not inspire too much confidence.
Head-to-head, West Indies lead Pakistan 7-3 in the World Cup.
Chris Gayle is invariably the cynosure of all eyes. This time, he would be for many reasons. The Universe Boss needs just 56 runs to become the first batsman in the current tournament to join the World Cup 1000-run club inhabited by 17 of the very best. He was the first to hit a double century in the mega event in 2015. He holds the record for the most sixes, 37 of them jointly with AB de Villiers in the World Cup. He has also hit the maximum sixes in a World Cup, 26 all by himself in 2015; and the most sixes in a World Cup innings, 16 in that double hundred against the hapless Zimbabweans. He also has to his name the highest partnership of 372 runs along with Marlon Samuels, not only in the World Cup but in all ODIs, and for any wicket, in that game against Zimbabwe in 2015.
Talking of record partnerships, it was only earlier this month that the West Indies openers John Campbell and Shai Hope raised 365 runs in an ODI against Ireland, best for the first wicket, and second only to the Gayle-Samuels stand for any wicket.
Pakistanis Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman too put up an opening stand of 304 against Zimbabwe less than a year earlier, one of only five 300-plus partnerships in ODIs. In the process, Fakhar Zaman hit up an unbeaten 210, the eighth ODI double hundred.
One can certainly expect a lot of thrills and spills in this West Indies versus Pakistan encounter.
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