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RALLYING AROUND THE SKIPPER:Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had yet another good outing with the ball with figures of four for 30 in the quarterfinal against the West Indies.
Mirpur: A distance of 2,366 km separates Dhaka and Karachi but if Shahid Afridi thought that his team was very much in Pakistan's commercial capital for the World Cup quarterfinals against the West Indies, he cannot be blamed. The Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium was a teeming mass of raucous fans, who cheered whole-heartedly for Pakistan in a display of sub-continental solidarity here on Wednesday.
The spectators had the added incentive of egging Pakistan on against a team that, in the immediate past, had bundled out Bangladesh for 58.
The aggrieved crowd derived vicarious pleasure at every dismissal of a West Indian batsman as the first match of the knockout stage was reduced to a lop-sided contest.
An insipid batting display left the West Indies in a shambles and its meagre 112 from 43.3 overs posed little trouble for an upbeat Pakistan team. Afridi's men won hardly breaking into a sweat and the only obstacle that might have delayed a successful pursuit was the sudden blackout that afflicted the floodlights during the innings break. The anomaly was set right fast without causing any delay and Pakistan won by 10 wickets, scoring 113 for no loss in 20.5 overs.
Openers Kamran Akmal (47 not out) and Mohammad Hafeez (61 not out) batted with freedom and flair, and once comeback man Kemar Roach was struck for 11 runs in the first over, the West Indies was down for the count.
Hafeez drove with panache on either side of the wicket while Akmal essayed ferocious cuts with one even stinging Kieron Pollard's hands, and soon Pakistan was dealing with the logistics of heading to Mohali for the semifinal on March 30.
In the afternoon, Darren Sammy won the toss and acted as if he had pocketed the match. He pumped his fists, opted to bat, and the grin widened when Devon Smith clattered Umar Gul's first delivery for four.
Factoring in the two southpaws — Smith and Chris Gayle — at the crease, Afridi immediately deployed off-spinner Hafeez from the second over.
Gayle, who was declared fit ahead of the game, moved tentatively, survived a leg before wicket appeal and then pummelled one past mid-wicket. Gayle also struck out at Gul but succumbed while trying to drill one through the off-side and the West Indies had lost its enforcer.
Then, Hafeez trapped Smith and Darren Bravo in front.
At 16 for three in 5.4 overs, the West Indies opted for a laborious reconstruction bid through Ramnaresh Sarwan (24) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (44 n.o.) — the latter was recalled for the game.
The duo then crawled through the two Power Plays — West Indies managed only 36 for three from the first 15 overs. Sarwan hung in grimly while Chanderpaul's twitchy feet meant that a run-out always remained a possibility.
A 60-ball barren phase when no boundaries were scored hobbled the West Indies further, prompting Sarwan to flick and drive Wahab Riaz in a display of urgency.
In the 17th over delivered by Afridi, the tournament's highest wicket-taker, Sarwan lofted one to long-off but got away with it as a sprinting Umar Gul failed to latch on. However, Sarwan, then on 14, failed to capitalise.
A few overs later, he attempted to cut Afridi despite being cramped for space, and Umar Akmal at point held it. The turgid 42-run partnership spread over 111 deliveries for the fourth wicket, that would turn out to be the West Indies' highest, had ended.
Then, Afridi dismissed Pollard on the cut and trapped Devon Thomas in front. His counterpart Sammy managed to flick the hat-trick ball away but Saeed Ajmal caught the West Indies captain rooted to the crease. Chanderpaul's lone act of defiance against him — a slog-swept six — did not affect the off-spinner as he went on to prise out Sammy and Devendra Bishoo.
Roach was the lone tail-ender who battled but a revival proved impossible and Chanderpaul was stranded without partners.
West Indies: D. Smith lbw b Hafeez 7 (14b), C. Gayle c Afridi b Gul 8 (9b, 2x4), R. Sarwan c Umar Akmal b Afridi 24 (68b, 2x4), D. Bravo lbw b Hafeez 0 (3b), S. Chanderpaul (not out) 44 (106b, 1x6), K. Pollard c Kamran Akmal b Afridi 1 (7b), D. Thomas lbw b Afridi 0 (1b), D. Sammy lbw b Ajmal 1 (3b), D. Bishoo b Ajmal 0 (3b), K. Roach c Younis b Razzaq 16 (43b, 2x4), R. Rampaul b Afridi 0 (5b); Extras (lb-2, w-7, nb-2): 11. Total (in 43.3 overs): 112.
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Gayle), 2-16 (Smith), 3-16 (Bravo), 4-58 (Sarwan), 5-69 (Pollard), 6-69 (Thomas), 7-71 (Sammy), 8-71 (Bishoo), 9-111 (Roach).
Pakistan bowling: Gul 7-1-13-1, Hafeez 10-3-16-2, Riaz 6-0-29-0, Afridi 9.3-1-30-4, Ajmal 8-1-18-2, Razzaq 3-1-4-1.
Pakistan: K. Akmal (not out) 47 (61b, 7x4), M. Hafeez (not out) 61 ( 64b, 10x4); Extras (lb-4, w-1): 5; Total (for no loss in 20.5 overs): 113.
West Indies bowling: Roach 5.5-0-39-0, Rampaul 5-1-28-0, Bishoo 5-1-24-0, Sammy 5-1-18-0.
Man of the match: Mohd. Hafeez .
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