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Kensington Park in Jamaica, Brian Lara and his men geared themselves mentally for their first mission of Cricket World Cup 2007  Compliments of the Nation News

THE REHEARSALS and warm-ups are over. Today it is serious business. And following yesterday's final practice session at Kensington Park in Jamaica, Brian Lara and his men geared themselves mentally for their first mission of Cricket World Cup 2007 – beat the Pakistanis in today's lead-off first-round match of the tourney. Here (from left) Lara, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard and Daren Powell going through a final exercise routine. (Picture by Brooks LaTouche Photography.)

Compliments of the Barbados Nation News by HAYDN GILL in Jamaica

THE EMOTIONS that ran high during the spectacular opening ceremony for Cricket World Cup 2007 is certain to be carried over this morning when the first ball is bowled at Sabina Park.

As Chris Dehring put it the other night, the moment is here and the moment is now.

Those are words that have not been ignored by Brian Lara and for all his fascinating exploits in the game, here, there and everywhere, there is a tinge of butterflies in the West Indies captain ahead of the opening match against Pakistan.

Nervous tension

"This is the World Cup, a different sort of hype, but I'm almost sure that the nervous tension that you might see in the players might be of benefit to us," Lara said just prior to a practice session at Kensington Park yesterday.

"Nerves are very important to sportsmen, his whole build-up and his whole adrenalin. Definitely, there will be a lot of nerves for me tomorrow [today].

"If it works for me, some of the guys are going to be experiencing it as well. It is just a matter of dealing with it. It brings the best out in me."

Morning session

It was a busy day for all concerned yesterday. After Sunday night's opening ceremony, the teams flew down from Montego Bay into Kingston yesterday morning and practised in the afternoon.

There was a late change to the venue and there were reports that Sabina was not quite ready to accommodate a full practice.

It does not diminish the level of anticipation in the build-up to the World Cup.

"It's a great feeling for such a tournament to be played in the West Indies," Lara said.

"I've spent 16 years playing international cricket and at the twiglight of my career, to have such a huge event, maybe the third biggest sporting event in the world being staged in the West Indies and being the host captain, it's a momentous occasion for myself and I'm sure even for the younger players who are having their first World Cup.

"This will be a huge pinnacle in their careers. Hopefully we will go on to great things in this particular tournament and make it an even better tournament for us."

The opening match of any World Cup is always of significance and this one is no different.

Four years ago, hosts South Africa suffered a defeat against West Indies and that loss was the start of a disappointing run for the home team that led to their elimination after the first round.

In the eyes of many, how West Indies go today could shape their progress.

"The first match is of utmost importance. It could give us that impetus we need very early in the tournament," Lara said.

"You've got to remember that being the two favoured teams in the group, there is a possibility that the winner of this game could be carrying along two points into the second stage of the tournament.

"That itself is a huge incentive for both teams. It's of critical importance are we're going to fight hard as hell to win it."

Pakistan have had a recent good string of wins against West Indies, and their coach Bob Woolmer is guarding against complacency.

"I like to put all the results behind us, but inevitably the team will subconsciously have that in their minds," Woolmer said. "But we have to make sure we're not in any way complacent when we get stuck into the game tomorrow."


West Indies v Pakistan

Venue: Sabina Park, Kingston.

The teams (from):

WEST INDIES – Brian Lara (captain), Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Denesh Ramdin, Ian Bradshaw, Daren Powell, Jerome Taylor, Corey Collymore, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith.

PAKISTAN – Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammed Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Azhar Mahmood, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneira, Iftikhar Anjum, Yasir Arafat, Shahid Afridi (suspended).

Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia), Billy Bowden (New Zealand). TV replays: Brian Jerling (South Africa).

Match referee: Chris Broad (England)

Playing times (East Caribbean): 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.; 2 p.m. – close (scheduled 6:15 p.m.).


West Indies v Pakistan

*West Indies have beaten Pakistan in both their previous ODI matches at Sabina Park. Almost 19 years to the day, West Indies beat Pakistan by 47 runs, thanks to an unbeaten 109 from Gus Logie. West Indies won the second clash by four wickets with Brian Lara scoring 114.

*West Indies' 221-0 against Pakistan in their opening group game of the 1992 CWC, is the highest score by a team that was won by ten wickets.

*West Indies have won five of the seven matches played between the two teams at the CWC.

*Pakistan and West Indies are the only two teams to have been twice involved in one-wicket victories. West Indies won in 1975 and Pakistan were victorious in 1987.


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