No sooner had the strains of the Pakistan national anthem finished washing over the Kensington Oval in Barbados than the skies opened and began to empty themselves on to the venue. And by the time the rains had subsided long enough to allow Kieron Pollard’s West Indies batsmen to hustle to 85 for 5 off their nine allotted overs, the skies opened again, making any further play impossible on the day.
Babar Azam, the Pakistani captain, called correctly and, with one eye on the sky, asked the home side to take first strike.
It looked like being the right call when Pollard came to the wicket at 51 for 3 when Russell (7 off 6, 1 x 6) was well caught by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan nearing the end of over #6.
But Pollard needed only nine balls to get to 22—heaving Shaheen Afridi square to leg for four, stealing two off the penultimate ball and crashing the last disdainfully over deep square leg.
Earlier, Pakistani smiles had grown even broader when Mohammad Wasim removed Chris Gayle (7 off 7, 1 x 6) caught by Hasan Ali on the long-on boundary, an over after Pollard’s arrival. Not a single run had been added.
Hasan’s fast-bowling partner Wasim had already claimed the first batsman to fall, his fifth ball inducing an attempted pull from Lendl Simmons (9 off 7, 2 x 4). He made no contact and the ball cannoned into the right side of his neck, flattening him and forcing him into immediate retirement.
Hasan then added the first wicket to fall with his first ball, Evin Lewis (6 off 5, 1 x 4) offering Shaheen a chance which he snaffled.
In at number 4, Nicholas Pooran (13 off 11, 2 x 6) twice cleared the boundary off Mohammad Hafeez before the off-spinner had him well caught by Shadab Khan.
Shimron Hetmyer (5 off 5) contributed a single boundary before departing, caught by a diving Rizwan off Hasan. So when Jason Holder joined Pollard, at 71 for 5, there were only eight balls left in the innings.
Holder faced four of them and managed an unbeaten two. Pollard fared rather better.
And the skipper will be hoping that both he and his men can improve on that performance when they take the field for Game 2 on Saturday in Guyana.
And that the weather too takes a turn for the better.
West Indies: 85 for 5 (K. Pollard 22*, H. Ali 2/11, U. Qadir 1/6)
Pakistan: Did not bat
Result: No result
Five-match series remains tied at 0-0