Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Resurgent Pakistan Roar in to WC Semifinal

Pakistan cricket team gave a very special gift to their nation on Pakistan Day today; it thrashed West Indies to roar into the World Cup Semifinal to be played at Mohali, India on Wednesday March 30 against the winner of Australia-India quarterfinal match tomorrow in Ahmedabad.

By pleasant coincidence, the venue for the Pakistan Day victory of Afridi's team was Shere Bangla stadium, named after Shere Bengal Maulvi A.K Fazlul Haque who introduced the Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 in Lahore that led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Bangladeshi spectators in Dhaka made the Pakistani team feel at home by loudly cheering them on during the entire match.

Skipper Shahid Afridi led Pakistan's devastating spin attack to bowl West Indies out for a paltry total of 112. The opening partnership of Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal did the rest by scoring 113 without losing any wickets.

Pakistan spinners Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal each took two wickets in an over to bowl out the Windies for 112. Afridi claimed 4-30 to reach 21 wickets in the tournament with only Shivnarine Chanderpaul resisting with 44 not out.
Pakistan reached the modest target with 175 balls left, man-of-the-match Hafeez (61) with 10 fours and opening partner Kamran Akmal firing seven fours in 47.

Coming on the heels of a historic win over unbeaten Australia last Saturday, this victory has helped boost the confidence of Pakistani team and its committed fans back home. I hope these back-to-back victories over Australia and the West Indies propel Pakistan to win the next two matches to lift the Cricket World Cup in 2011.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Breaks Australia's 34-Match Winning Streak

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Beats Tennis Great Roger Federer


Riaz Haq said...

India beat Australia in WC QF in Ahmadabad.

Congrats to Indians!

Pakistan vs India semi in Mohali!

Looking forward to it!

Indian said...

india has never lost to Pak in a WC match, but there is alway a first time.

Anonymous said...

Should be a lot of fun. Hope Shoaib plays.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting excepts from Soutik Biswas of the BBC:

....Listen to the metaphors ex-cricketers are serving up to describe the epic encounter. Vivian Richards says this is "the best war that can be fought ... a war without weapons". Imran Khan insists - quite correctly - that there will be a "curfew in the subcontinent on the day of the match". He also flags up a concern: "I hope it is played in the right spirit."

Khan's concern is understandable. The two sides haven't played a single match on each other's soil since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. With ties between the two neighbours plummeting, Pakistani cricketers have been kept out of the lucrative Indian Premier League after the first season. Since the attacks, the two sides have played each other only twice: Pakistan won a 2009 Champions Trophy game in South Africa by 54 runs, while India won a closely fought 2010 Asia Cup game in Sri Lanka by three wickets with one ball remaining. So the pressure on both sides playing in Indian Punjab will be enormous.

And not many expected an India-Pakistan semi-final this World Cup. The subcontinental twins had been disgraced - ousted unceremoniously by minnows - in the last edition of the Cup in West Indies in 2007. And in the run up to this edition, Pakistan cricket had reached its nadir with three top players found guilty of corruption and the usual selection controversies. A team which appeared to be in a shambles has already confounded pundits and proved that they excel when in trouble.

So Pakistan have won five of the six league games and decimated the West Indies in the quarter-finals.They boast of two of the four top wicket takers in the tournament: captain Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul have picked up 35 wickets between them so far. And thus, this epic battle has been literally foisted upon Indian soil by Pakistan, a rousing victory of sports over politics.

No one believes that Wednesday's game will help ease relations between the squabbling neighbours despite Indian PM Manmohan Singh's cricket diplomacy. Nobody believes that it will pave the way for resumption of bilateral cricket ties, which have been disrupted in the past by wars, the demolition of a mosque, an attack on the Indian parliament and religious riots. The irony is that India and Pakistan had become quite comfortable with winning and losing as they played more frequently before the Mumbai attacks: the two sides played a Test series every year between 2003 and 2007. The honours had been even: India and Pakistan had won one series each and drawn the remaining two. "These days," wrote Indian scholar Ramachandra Guha, "Indians don't take failure as national humiliation. Perhaps they consoled themselves that the country surpassed Pakistan in all spheres. It had better scientists, better writers, a more vigorous film industry, and was a democracy besides."


So who will win this "final before the final"? Though Pakistan has an overwhelming 60% win rate against India in one-day games, history is heavily stacked against them in the World Cup: it has lost all the four previous encounters with India. Imran Khan says India begin as favourites. But mercurial Pakistan could easily provide the most tantalising twist in the tail.

Riaz Haq said...

Congratulations to Indians on a well-deserved cricket win at Mohali today.

Pakistan's bowlers did well as expected by limiting India to 260 runs on a good batting pitch.

But Pakistanis' fielding (dropped catches that permitted Tendulkar to make 85 runs) and batting (irresponsible and ill-timed shots by key batsmen) were sub-par, and led to the loss in the WC Semifinal.

Clearly the better team won as it should have.

I must say that Pakistanis did better than expected and made the WC semifinal after many crises during the last year.