KINGSTON, Jamaica, AFP
To a cacophony of noise from a half-full Sabina Park, Umar Gul ran in to deliver the first ball of the 2007 World Cup to Chris Gayle here on Tuesday.
After nine years of planning, construction and setbacks, the Pakistani fast bowler got the 16-team tournament underway at 1430 GMT with the first ball delivered to West Indies opener Gayle.
Under sunny skies, the enhanced stadium welcomed a steady stream of spectators, wearing all colors, waving flags, with painted faces, and all the paraphernalia to get them through what many hope will be a compelling day of cricket.
The two teams arrived at the ground just before 1300 GMT and were greeted to loud cheers as they emerged onto the outfield from the new players’ dressing room on the northern end of the ground.
After Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq called correctly at the toss and then chose to field, there was a presentation of mementos to the surviving members of the World Cup winning West Indies teams of 1975 and 1979 West Indies.
Clive Lloyd, captain of those two teams and now manager of the present side, was overcome by emotion and described it as “a special moment”.
Gayle then became the first wicket to fall at the 2007 World Cup when he was dismissed off the second ball of the third over.
Gayle edged Gul to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for just two with the total on seven.
New batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan was then dropped first ball by Younis Khan in the slips, also off Gul.