It was the perfect start to a Caribbean World Cup. In front of the largest - and, surely, noisiest - crowd ever to watch a match in Sabina Park, the West Indies saw off the challenge of Pakistan and are firm favourites to be one of the two teams to qualify from Group D.

Certainly the team and the host fans believe so. The players celebrated with a lap of honour at the end and although Brian Lara explained it was in response to the 'tremendous atmosphere in the ground' the West Indies captain knows that the hard bit is over.

Victory against Zimbabwe on Monday should seal their place in the Super Eights and that is bad news for Ireland who will probably have to beat both the Africans tomorrow and Pakistan on Saturday to turn their first World cup finals into a marathon.

On this evidence the second part of the equation looks unlikely because while Pakistan lost, they did not do a lot wrong. The batting of their captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, and in particular his fourth wicket partnership with 2006 batman of the year Mohammad Yousuf, was of the highest quality. Completing their formidable middle order, Shoaib Malik made 62.

Inzi was more than happy to chase 242 on a belter of a pitch and in the end the major difference between the teams - although the final margin was 54 runs - was the fielding.

While Ramnaresh Sarwan was dropped first ball, and other easy singles were turned into twos by the sluggish Pakistan fielders, the West Indies missed nothing in the air or on the ground, and Dwayne Bravo's fielding seems set to be one of the highlights of the tournament.

For starters, he held a blinder in the gully to dismiss Kamran Akmal, the former Limavady professional, first ball and upstaged even that effort with a return left handed catch off Umar Gul. Breathtaking.

The man of the match award went to the other Dwayne in the team, Smith, for his 32 off 15 balls (three fours, two sixes) which helped the Windies add 57 off the last five overs but, even more crucially, he dismissed Pakistan's big two before they could get out of the 30s.

Brian Lara, it seems, will continue to come in at number five in this World Cup - surely your best batsman must bat as long as possible in one-day cricket - but while that may be good news for Ireland the ominous form of Marlon Samuels was not.

It was he, not Lara, who upped the tempo which 'was so late that 20-30 runs were left out there', according to the Windies captain. Samuels finished with 63 from 68 balls with five fours and three sixes, each maximum greeted with increasing volume from the 20,000-plus fans. The noise level peaked when No 11 Corey Collymore hit the last ball of the innings into the crowd.

The force is with the hosts, both on and off the field.

Scores: At Sabina Park, West Indies 241-9 (M Samuels 63, R Sarwan 49, B Lara 37, D Smith 32; R Iftikhar 3-44, U Gul 2-38, Mohammed Hafeez 2-39) Pakistan 187 (Shoaib Malik 62, Mohammed Yousuf 37, Inzamam-ul-Haq 36; D Smith 3-36, D Bravo 3-42, D Powell 2-42). West Indies won by 54 runs.