Mavericks, bohemians and flamboyant are the adjectives we associate with the Pakistani team. On Tuesday, in front of a Bangladesh crowd that rooted for them as if the two countries were never divided, the words which came to mind were of a different nature and connotation. They were ruthless, professional, efficient and competent in dismantling a West Indies, which found their charge so unrelenting that within the first few overs, the game was as good as over.
If there was any more evidence needed that Pakistan have, along with the South Africans, the best bowling attack of the World Cup, confirmation came very early.
The pace and guile of Umar Gul were complemented by the variations and skill of the two offies - Hafeez and Ajmal, while Afridi's missile-like leg spinners were once again menacing. It was a display of a side which seems to have all the right ingredients that can help them make a major impact in the championship.
When it came to batting, the young Hafeez rarely put a foot wrong, while Akmal, who kept wicket competently, and that means saying a lot, batted with the kind of abandon one associates with an aggressive, assertive side. The Indians would feel threatened by what they saw on the slow, flat track of Mirpur, though their immediate hurdle on Thursday are the Australians.
India's battle with Australia, as an OZ journalist put it, is being built up here as a morality play. And should the "good" prevail, how would we build India's semi-final with Pakistan? From a cricketing, historic and commercial perspective, that will be a tie that could be the envy of the gods. For that to happen, India will either have to play way above what they have done so far in the Cup, or the Aussies will have to oblige.