Awesome Pakistan breeze into World Cup semifinals

March 24th, 2011 - 12:32 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, March 23 (IANS) Skipper Shahid Afridi bamboozled the West Indies with his leg-spin to capture four wickets as Pakistan breezed into the cricket World Cup semifinals with a crushing 10-wicket victory here Wednesday.

Afridi took 4-30 and along with two other spinners, Mohammad Hafeez (2-16) and Saeed Ajmal (2-18), helped Pakistan bundle out the Caribbean side for a paltry 112 in 43.3 overs before cantering to victory in only 20.5 overs, much to the joy of their huge flock of supporters at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.

Hafeez (61 not out; 64 b, 10×4) and Kamran Akmal (47 not out; 61 b, 7×4) made it one of the biggest mismatches a World Cup quarterfinal. Each was given a life as they showed there were no demons in the pitch. It was also Pakistan’s highest opening partnership in this World Cup.

Akmal struck a boundary of pacer Kemar Roach to take Pakistan home with 175 balls to spare.

Pakistan now book a flight to Mohali, where they would play the pre-title round against the winners of Thursday’s India-Australia quarterfinal, a mouthwatering prospect.

The West Indies bowlers could have seen the back of both the openers. Kieron Pollard failed to hold on to an uppish cut from Akmal (then on 6) in the third over of the innings. Hafeez, on 17, benefited from a dropped catch by Devon Thomas. Roach was the unlucky bowler on both occasions.

Man of the Match Hafeez, who executed some spectacular stokes, reached his half century off 55 deliveries.

Earlier, Afridi missed a hat-trick, as the West Indies gave another display of brittle batting, failing to negotiate quality spin.

Electing to bat, the West Indies could not recover from early jolts, and lost wickets at regular intervals, setting Pakistan at an easy rate of 2.26 runs before a large crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.

It was the West Indies’ third lowest total in the World Cup and their batting collapsed for the third straight game in the tournament. In the group stage, the West Indies batting caved in against England and India.

But for Shivnarine Chanderpaul (44 not out), back in the team after sitting out two matches, the West Indies scoreboard would have remained in double digits. Chanderpaul grafted all the way, hitting one six but not a single boundary during his 106-ball stay.

The 36-year-old Guyanese, playing his fifth World Cup, had only one blemish, when he benefited from Kamran Akmal missing an easy stumping chance. He held one end, as the procession of batsmen continued at the other, and finally ran out of partners.

Four West Indies batsmen went for ducks and only three got into double figures.

The Pakistani spinners stifled the West Indies batsmen, as runs were hard to come by, and only seven boundaries were hit in the entire innings.

Afridi, the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, took his tally to 21.

The West Indies’ woes began in the third over, with explosive Chris Gayle (8) failing to keep an offdrive off Umar Gul down to be caught by Afridi.

Hafeez, who opened the bowling, then got a double success in his third over. The in-form opener Devon Smith (7) was trapped plumb legbefore the wicket off the first ball, while Dwayne Bravo also departed the same way three deliveries later as he was beaten by a drifter. The West Indies were then 16/3 in 5.4 overs.

Old warhorses Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan (24) tried to steady the ship with some gritty batting, putting on 42 runs, but could never get on top of the bowlers.

After Gayle’s boundary in the third over, the West Indies had to wait for 10 overs before Sarwan struck two fours off Wahab Riyaz.

The next boundary came after 17.2 overs, and by then, Sarwan and four other batsmen were back in the pavilion.

Sarwan (24, 68b, 2×4) spent some agonising moments against Afridi, and finally returned in the 25th over. Going for a square drive, he was foxed by the bounce and ended up in the hands of Umar Akmal at point.

Afridi got Kieron Pollard (1) and Thomas off back-to-back balls in his next over to be on a hat-trick, with the West Indies tottering at 69/6. However, skipper Darren Sammy averted the hat-trick.

Sammy did not last long, falling to Saeed Ajaml’s doosra in the next over. Ajmal then rattled Devendra Bishoo’s (0) bails with another doosra which hit the stumps sneaking through between bat and pad. The West Indies were reduced to a pitiable 8/71.

However, Roach (16) and Chanderpaul stretched the innings with a 40-run partnership that ended when the former threw his wicket away as he tried to hit Abdul Razzaq out of the ground.

–Indo-Asian News service
ssp/pt/vs/vm

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