One close, another one-sided

West Indies pipped Pakistan, while England sauntered to victory over Australia… Shreedutta Chidananda reports.

Misbah ul Haq made a valiant 96 but West Indies sneaked past Pakistan by two wickets in their Group ‘B’ game at The Oval. Denesh Ramdin and Kemar Roach saw their side home with a few chancy runs at the end. Chasing 171 for victory, West Indies lost two early wickets but a 63-run partnership between Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels helped check the slide and set the team on course. The Pakistan fast bowlers Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz did their best for the cause with fine spells. There was, however, too little to defend.

Earlier, Misbah played a lone hand as Pakistan, devastated by three early wickets for Roach, never fully recovered. Nasir Jamshed made 50 but none among the rest crossed six. Misbah, without a single one-day hundred, was left four agonizing runs short at the non-striker’s end as last man Irfan was dismissed by Ravi Rampaul. The off-spinner Sunil Narine also took three wickets as Pakistan limped to 170.

There was a moment of controversy in the innings when Misbah, on 0, edged Roach behind but the wicket-keeper Ramdin, who let the ball slip out of his gloves and on to the grass, still ran up in celebration. Ramdin was later charged with breaching the ICC Code of Conduct. Misbah expressed disappointment with the act, later saying: “If we don’t know anything, then it’s fine, but if you know clearly that it’s not a catch, you should not claim that because it’s not in the spirit of the game.”

Over in Group ‘A’ the host England opened its campaign on a winning note, crushing Australia by 48 runs at Edgbaston.

In what was seen as a prelude to the Ashes later this summer, Australia looked out of sorts, never really in the reckoning. James Anderson snared three wickets to overtake Darren Gough as England’s most successful ODI bowler as the visitor could only manage an unconvincing 221 for nine in its pursuit of 270. Only George Bailey and James Faulkner made any sort of mark with the bat, making fruitless half-centuries.

Progress was slow in England’s innings but Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, it appeared, had judged the conditions well, adding 111 for the second wicket. Bell, still batting as an opener, top-scored with 91, and was later declared man-of-the-match.

Ravi Bopara then scored a breezy 46 (37b) as England rattled up 51 runs in the last five overs. Neither Graeme Swann nor Steven Finn was involved but England, it seemed, had more than enough to get the job done. Australia, meanwhile, showed it was still heavily reliant on Michael Clarke, who missed the game with a lower back injury.

THE SCORES

Group B, Pakistan v West Indies, The Oval, June 7, 2013: Pakistan 170 in 48 overs (Nasir Jamshed 50, Misbah-ul-Haq 96 not out, Kemar Roach three for 28, Sunil Narine three for 34) lost to West Indies 172 for eight in 40.4 overs (Chris Gayle 39, Marlon Samuels 30, Kieron Pollard 30, Mohammad Irfan three for 32).

Group A, England v Australia, Birmingham, June 8, 2013: England 269 for six in 50 overs (Alastair Cook 30, Ian Bell 91, Jonathan Trott 43, Ravi Bopara 46 not out) beat Australia 221 for nine in 50 overs (Phil Hughes 30, George Bailey 55, James Faulkner 54 not out, James Anderson three for 30).