'Samuels' knock was crucial. It was a question of who was going to start it, and he did. He carried on too, and built on that'" © AFP

Brian Lara refused to look too far ahead - "It's just one match" - but there was no denying his pleasure at the manner in which West Indies stormed to a 54-run victory in their opening game at the World Cup. In front of a raucous crowd that wasn't quite capacity, they defended 241 with some disciplined bowling and brilliant fielding, and the margin would have been even more resounding but for a defiant innings from Shoaib Malik.

"I still think the batting did it in spurts," said Lara afterwards. "I thought 241 was a good total in the end. The guys did really well then, but we need to be scoring better throughout an innings." He pointed the finger at himself and his senior colleague, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for a sluggish start that saw West Indies scoring at less than three an over even after the halfway mark.

The momentum shift started with Marlon Samuels, who stroked a superb 70-ball 63, and added 91 with Lara. "We left 20 or 30 runs out there then," said Lara, talking about the slow start. 'Myself and Shiv were pretty slow to get started. Samuels' knock was crucial. It was a question of who was going to start it, and he did. He carried on too, and built on that."

For Inzamam-ul-Haq and Pakistan, it was a depressing afternoon, after the bowlers had excelled for 40 overs. "It's a matter of concern," said Inzamam, when asked about the batting. "We have the experience in the middle order and the batsmen have to take responsibility."

He didn't think his decision to field first had affected the outcome, with even Lara admitting that he would have chosen the same option. "Our bowlers did well," said Inzamam, talking in Urdu. "I was happy with their effort to restrict them to a total that I thought we could chase."

There was no attempt to blame the pitch either. "It was a good one," he said. "There was some help for the seamers, but I have to give their bowlers credit. They bowled a great line, and didn't even need to use the spinners."

He was happy enough with his own spinner, though Danish Kaneria's dismal fielding did bring a rare smile to his lips. 'The fielding was sloppy," he said in another masterpiece of understatement. "We'll have to keep working hard on that over the next few days."

Lara was full of praise for the crowd - "You had to be out there to really feel the atmosphere" - and for Dwayne Smith, who justified the decision to play him ahead of Ian Bradshaw by taking three wickets and clouting 32 from just 15 balls. "He played really well today," said Lara. "When he came in, we were looking at 225 or so. But then he started hitting it out of the park. And he got two of their best players out [Inzamam and Yousuf]. But he knows he need to build on that."

So do West Indies, who started the last World Cup with a similarly impressive win only to lose their way subsequently. Soon after the toss on Tuesday morning, the organisers had given the crowd an opportunity to show their respect for the heroes of the 1975 and 1979 campaigns. But in reality, the best possible tribute to those giants of auld langsyne comes in the shape of performances such as the ones Samuels, Smith and Bravo summoned up against Pakistan.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo