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Pakistan take on West Indies in first quarter final

Twice champions West Indies have failed to sparkle so far while Pakistan have been consistent. Nilankur Das reports. The equation | Teams

cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2011 13:10 IST
Nilankur Das

An overcast morning quickly turned into a very hot and humid day as West Indies and Pakistan warmed up with football sessions at the Sher-e Bangla stadium where the two former champions meet on Wednesday in the first World Cup quarter-final.

The difference in standard was stark and understandably so. While the athletic Caribbeans looked very comfortable both on and off the ball, the Pakistan players mainly used the session to free their muscles.

Contrasting journey
The two teams have had contrasting runs through the league phase.

Pakistan are here as Group A toppers with wins over Sri Lanka and Australia, ending the champions' 34-match unbeaten streak in the World Cup.

On the flip side, Pakistan have failed to entirely shake off the tag as an unpredictable side after losing to New Zealand in the group phase.

West Indies, on the other hand, have lost the last two matches against England and India and are here as the fourth-placed team from group B, edging out Bangladesh on net run-rate.

"We played football for the warm-up and that naturally relaxes us. The guys are in good state and we have put whatever has happened in the preliminary round behind us. The real competition begins now," West Indies skipper Darren Sammy said.

He was trying to put across the point that it was the knockout phase and it did not matter how the teams had qualified. The tournament resumes afresh and from now on each team is three consecutive wins away from the title.

Support for Pak
It would be as good as playing at home for Pakistan; the organisers expect a full house that would cheer on the boys in green.

For West Indies though, after their crushing victory over Bangladesh and then the loss to England, a reversal of which could have pushed Bangladesh through to the quarter-finals, the locals find no reason to support Sammy's boys.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/23_03_11-metro-21c.jpg

Bowling strengths
Skipper Shahid Afridi is the highest wicket-taker so far with 17 from six matches. Though it obviously hints at how spin has played a crucial part in the tournament, both teams boast of a strong pace attack.

Pakistan have been bolstered by Umar Gul with Abdul Razzaq returning to form while Shoaib Akhtar remains a choice on the bench.

For the West Indies, Ravi Rampaul coming off the bench and bowling with great pace and accuracy against India has made the team management rethink the opening line-up but that was a luxury, skipper Sammy said. Kemar Roach and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn have been their biggest poachers so far.

Though Roach is coming off an injury and Benn struggled to find rhythm in the last two matches, both have fond recent memories of having routed Bangladesh for 58.

Batting will be key
On a slow wicket where the ball is unlikely to come on, the batsmen will have to show a lot of patience and work hard for their runs. West Indies have tried to hit out of situations and in the only match they played here, they had a very small target to chase.

With Shivnarine Chanderpaul out of favour and Ramnaresh Sarwan showing a tendency to get bogged down, batting could pose the biggest problem for the Caribbeans. Pakistan, on the other hand, have the lineup that suits the conditions.

Their batsmen can stay and gather runs while thier bowling can run through any batting line-up.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/23_03_11-metro-21b.jpg