Teams warming up an hour before a match is not an uncommon sight. But what surprised most was that Pakistan had almost a full nets session for about two hours before Wednesday's quarterfinal against the West Indies at the Sher-e Bangla stadium.
Someone joked that Pakistan would run out
of steam training so hard in the heat, once the match begins. But apparently they have been doing this right through the tournament.
The routine seems to be working for Pakistan. Their pacers have managed to cut down on no balls and wides. The spinners bowling a few down the leg-side could be part of the strategy to set up batsmen.
In the end, Pakistan's warm-up was more strenuous than the match as they swept aside the Caribbeans by 10 wickets, sealing victory by the 21st over. West Indies, reeling at 18 for three after the first 10 overs, were never given a chance to come back.
Mohammad Hafeez took two quick wickets bowling spin with the new ball and then hammered 61 not out to collect the man-of-the-match award.
The bowling discipline came to the fore as West Indies were bundled out for 112 in 43.3 overs.
The Pakistan bowlers went full throttle on the side of the main pitch, with even the match order maintained, before the toss. Every bowler bowled an over at one go and the process was repeated twice. Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul and Afridi, who again emerged the highest wicket taker with 4 for 30, actually sent down more than three overs apiece. The match haul took the tournament's highest wicket-taker's tally to 21.
And outside the stadium, at the Bangladesh Cricket's academy ground, the batsmen had a full nets session.
Even during the break all the four who did not play had a rigorous fielding session. With Aaqib Javed in control, Shoaib Akhtar, Abdur Rahman, Junaid Khan and Ahmed Shehzad worked all out.
Coach Waqar Younis said: "Full credit should go to my boys who have worked hard and executed them in the field."
Now the focus turns to a possible India-Pakistan semi-final clash on March 30. "I will love to see the face-off," Waqar said. "I don't think there is a bigger rivalry in cricket. The fact that both the countries haven't played each other for a while now only adds to the interest. If you ask me, yes, why not?"
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