BRISBANE, Australia - The residual effect of a strong cyclone made its presence felt at the World Cup on Saturday, with heavy rain forcing Australia's Pool A match against Bangladesh to be abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Pakistan may have been hoping for some of the same from Mother Nature that might have prevented a heavy loss to the West Indies in New Zealand.
But the weather was mostly sunny and a perfect day for cricket in Christchurch. More perfect, it turned out, for the West Indies in a big 150-run win.
After the West Indies piled on the runs at the end of their innings to amass 310-6, Pakistan lost four wickets for one run in a disastrous start to its reply and never recovered to lose its second match of the tournament by a big margin — it was defeated by archrival India by 76 runs last weekend.
Jerome Taylor took three wickets in a destructive opening spell while Andre Russell followed his unbeaten 42 from 13 balls with 3-33 in a player-of-the-match performance.
"It was a wonderful performance," West Indies captain Jason Holder said. "I thought we really batted well at the end of the innings. It wasn't an easy total to defend but I thought what made the job easier was the start we had."
In Brisbane, organizers finally called off the match about three hours after it was supposed to begin, due to heavy rain associated with Cyclone Marcia.
The match would have marked the return to the Australian lineup of captain Michael Clarke after hamstring surgery. Instead all it gave was one competition point to each team for a no result.
"It was obviously disappointing not to get out there today," Australia batsman Steve Smith said. "It's a place that we play really well ... at the Gabba.
"We'll take the point (and) hopefully continue to play some good cricket throughout the tournament." The no result adds extra emphasis to four-time champion Australia's next match in Auckland against co-host New Zealand, which has three wins from three starts to lead the group.
Two matches are scheduled for Sunday, with defending champion India playing South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where both teams are attempting to win their second match of the tournament. Two teams bidding for their first victory will meet in Dunedin, New Zealand, where Sri Lanka plays newcomers Afghanistan.
The India squad is feeling confident after its opening win over Pakistan, and star batsman Virat Kholi says a victory over South Africa would set an ideal platform for the rest of the World Cup — an "immense self-belief booster."
"South Africa is, as we all know, one of the top sides in the world and they have a good balance of batting and bowling, and their fielding is a rare standard in international cricket," Kohli said.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers is putting less stock in India's performances, or anyone's, except that of his own team.
"I'm not too worried about other teams' results, even though we are part of the whole tournament, and it does influence us," he said. "We know India is still the world champion. We know they are an incredible cricket team, so the respect factor is definitely still there."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews says his squad will show some respect to Afghanistan, treating it like a test-playing nation. Sri Lanka opened its tournament with a demoralizing 98-run loss to co-host New Zealand last weekend.
Afghanistan, especially its bowling, looked extremely dangerous at times in its debut World Cup match last Wednesday, until Bangladesh exposed its inexperienced batting lineup to beat the second-tier Associate team by 105 runs.
"They're a very dangerous team. You can't take them lightly because they can upset a team," Mathews said. "They've got nothing to lose.
"We have to expect a good challenge," he added. "We can't expect to just run through them. We've got to fight really hard from ball one to ball 300. Just take it as (we would against) a test playing nation"
Afghanistan paceman Mirwais Ashraf, who claimed two wickets against Bangladesh, says his lineup is ready for a bigger challenge against Sri Lanka.
"We will play a positive game tomorrow," Ashraf said. "The Sri Lankan side is a senior side, a full member nation ... it will be a good game tomorrow."