The quarter-finals of the 2011 Cricket World Cup begin on Wednesday with Pakistan’s in-form bowling attack facing a wobbly West Indies line-up in Dhaka.>
Pakistan went through as Group A winners while West Indies finished fourth in Group B, beating all three teams below them, but losing to all three teams above them.
Meanwhile, Pakistan recorded memorable wins over pre-World Cup favourites Sri Lanka and Australia, but suffered a heavy loss to New Zealand when chasing 300-plus.
*Pakistan’ Group performance1st in Group A, 5 wins, 1 loss*Results’
Pakistan 317/7, Kenya 112, Pakistan won by 205 runs Pakistan 277/7, Sri Lanka 266/9, Pakistan won by 11 runs Pakistan 184, Canada 138, Pakistan won by 46 runs New Zealand 302/7, Pakistan 192, New Zealand won by 110 runs Zimbabwe 151/7, Pakistan 164/3, Pakistan won by 7 wickets Australia 176, Pakistan 178/6, Pakistan won by 4 wickets
Statistics Most runs; Umar Akmal (211), Misbah-ul-Haq (192), Younis Khan (172) Best batting average; Asad Shafiq (124), Umar Akmal (52.75), Younis Khan (34.4) Most wickets; Shahid Afridi (17), Umar Gul (13), Mohammad Hafeez (5)
The Good Pakistan’s bowlers have been a feature of the tournament, with Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul the chief wicket-takers. Gul is the form pace bowler of the World Cup including three in the win over Australia.
Pakistan have also received good service from their middle order with Umar Akmal particularly impressive, while Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq have been solid, with both posting good scores in the shock victory over Sri Lanka.
The Bad Pakistan have an issue at the top of the batting order, with openers Mohammed Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad struggling for runs. Hafeez is averaging just 18.5, while Shehzad is 8.8. Hafeez bowls spin too so his spot is safe, but Shehzad was dropped for the Australia game with wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal replacing him at the top of the order, scoring 23. It’s unclear if that’s the answer.
Skipper Afridi hasn’t found form with the bat either, managing just 65 runs in six innings which is a concern which hasn’t been brought to the fore just yet.
A minor concern is Pakistan’s lack of wicket-takers behind Gul and Afridi, with Shoaib Akhtar struggling. There will be a selection quandry over Abdur Rehman or Saeed Ajmal. Rehman has been economical but picked up few wickets, while Ajmal should trouble the West Indies’ long list of left-handed batsmen.
Afridi’s side are full of confidence after their impressive group stage, which concluded with a win over Australia. Afridi said: “To win a game against a side like Australia before the quarter-final is a big achievement. The dressing-room atmosphere is very positive and very good. It was a great win. We really worked hard before this tournament and I don’t think in my 14-year career we’ve ever worked as hard. Definitely, the expectation is greater now. We are feeling more confident.”
“I’m very happy with my winning combination at this stage. You can’t make changes if you can help it for a game like this. We have an offspinner in Mohammad Hafeez so let’s see. We’ll decide this evening once we’ve seen the conditions and the pitch.”
“Before this World Cup I said I see my team in the semi-final and I want to see them there. My team is capable of doing that.”
*West Indies’ Group performance4th in Group B, 3 wins, 3 losses*Results’
West Indies 222, South Africa 223/3, South Africa won by 7 wickets West Indies 330/8, Netherlands 115, West Indies won by 215 runs Bangladesh 58, West Indies 59/1, West Indies won by 9 wickets West Indies 275, Ireland 231, West Indies won by 44 runs England 243, West Indies 225, England won by 18 runs India 268, West Indies 188, India won by 80 runs
Statistics Most runs; Devon Smith (293), Kieron Pollard (179), Chris Gayle (162) Best batting average; Chris Gayle (54), Devon Smith (48.83), Kieron Pollard (35.8), Most wickets; Kemar Roach (13), Sulieman Benn (12), Darren Sammy (8)
The Good Opener Devon Smith has been outstanding with the bat, with two half centuries and one century in six innings, he is their topscorer with 293 runs at an average of 48.83. When Chris Gayle has been fit, he’s provided good support at the top of the order too.
The West Indies appear to have a wealth of bowling options with Kemar Roach and Sulieman Benn leading the line with the wickets. But Ravi Rampaul came in and picked up 5/51 against India, while Divendra Bishoo and Andre Russell came in and got 3/34 and 4/49 respectively against England. It’ll be a selection headache, but it’s a healthy one.
The Bad It’s obvious. West Indies’ batting collapses have crippled their tournament, costing them in crucial games against England and India when victory was in sight. The middle order is culpable with Ramnaresh Sarwan yet to score a half century this tournament. Experienced but out-of-form Shivnarine Chanderpaul may be drafted in to shore up the middle order.
More concerning is the form of Darren Sammy, who despite a knock of 41 against England, has 12 runs in five innings. Wicket-keeper Devon Thomas is averaging just 8.2 as well and could be dropped with Darren Bravo given the gloves. Meanwhile Kieron Pollard’s two half centuries came against weaker opponents and he needs to find some consistency.
Injuries aren’t helping the West Indies either, with all-rounded Dwayne Bravo already out of the tournament after sustaining a problem in the first game. Gayle is battling a painful abdominal injury, while Roach has had a mild infection to deal with.
Sammy has a number of issues to deal with, particularly considering the West Indies haven’t beaten a top ODI side since June 2009, but he feels as though the quarter-final is anyone’s game. Sammy said: “Whether you come in at number one or number eight, doesn’t matter. The quarters are where it counts.”
On Gayle’s injury, Sammy added: “He batted in the nets and I liked the way he was hitting the ball and moving his feet. I know Chris is a very committed fellow, he will do whatever it takes to put the team in a position to win.”
On whether Roach will return after a mild infection to replace Rampaul who picked up five wickets against India, Sammy continued: “Ravi had an excellent start for us in his first game. I know we will come up with the best combination to go out and win us the quarter-finals.”
On whether Chanderpaul will play, replacing either Andre Russell or Devendra Bishoo, Sammy added: “He is part of the team, he has a big role to play and most likely we will see him feature in tomorrow’s game.”
Sports Pundit prediction; Pakistan to win comfortably