March 22, 2011

World Cup 2011

Progress is a bonus

Kamran Abbasi
Asad Shafiq cuts through the covers, Australia v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 19, 2011
Asad Shafiq has calmly slotted into the No. 3 spot  © Getty Images


A wonder of this World Cup is that all the expected teams have qualified for the knock-out stage but the tournament has still been thoroughly exciting. The so-called minnows must take great credit for ensuring that the first phase was competitive. Now, the remaining nations are close enough together in ability to ensure that this is the most open World Cup since 1999. Hence both Pakistan and West Indies will believe that with some luck the trophy is within grasp.

Of the two, Pakistan have had the better tournament, registering wins over Sri Lanka and Australia while the West Indies are yet to bring down a major power. That probably doesn't count for much except it is better for a team to be running into form at this stage rather than struggling to find or retain it. As a result West Indies don't seem entirely sure about their best combination or strategy, and are yet to put together a meaningful run.

On that basis, Pakistan will start as favourites in their quarter-final clash in Mirpur. Not that they should see that as a burden. Pakistan entered this competition with low expectations, and their performances have already exceeded those downbeat predictions. Anything the players achieve from here on in is a bonus. The mere fact that Pakistan have become serious challengers is a minor triumph.

West Indies are a dangerous team with the hitting power of Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard and the bowling threat of Kemar Roach--they are not to be taken lightly or complacently. I don't expect Pakistan to underestimate them, even though if you were to pick your quarter-final opponents it would be a straight choice between the West Indies and New Zealand.

Other than individual West Indian brilliance, Pakistan's greatest threats lie in their own erratic form and the prospect of chasing a decent total under lights. When Pakistan fans tune in to the match build-up and discover that their team has won the toss and is batting first, they may experience the first twinges of expectant hysteria and the tingling prospect of a semi-final spot.

Batting second will be an unnerving experience, however, just as it proved against India in the 1996 World Cup quarter-final. Waqar Younis, the current coach, will remember that day with pain. When Aamer Sohail threw the ball to him, the world expected an exemplar in toe-crushing death bowling. Instead Ajay Jadeja battered Waqar to reach a total that was beyond a bright and emotional start by Sohail and Saeed Anwar.

In terms of strategy, Pakistan's only serious consideration looks to be whether or not to introduce Saeed Ajmal? Despite the ongoing debate over selection it would be hard to imagine a change to the bowlers who dismissed Australia for 176 unless Ajmal, a more attacking spinner and a greater threat to left-handers, replaces Abdul Rehman.

The batting line-up has a neat balance of wise heads and young guns running into form. Important performances by Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal against Australia will have been crucial for confidence, but they will require players to start firing at the top of the order if they are to go all the way in this World Cup.

As ever, it is Pakistan's bowling that offers most hope. Bowlers from Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka impressed the most in the group stages, with their teams occupying the top positions. The question now is whether or not those teams will be the ones to progress to the semi-finals?

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Kamran Abbasi

Keywords: World Cup

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Esther on (December 23, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

Wow! That's a raelly neat answer!

Posted by Phil S. on (March 23, 2011, 23:08 GMT)

There can be no doubt that a strong Pakistan is good for the game.

Posted by bilal raja on (March 23, 2011, 18:07 GMT)

i want to see pak vs india in semi final i want only one change in pakistan team that is wahab replace shoaib . v pakistani waiting for cup

Posted by Rocketman on (March 23, 2011, 18:00 GMT)

to harshvardan

concentrate on beating Australia first. Iknow we have never beaten your team in world cup but heres hoping to a different result inshallah. Ameen.

Posted by fhs on (March 23, 2011, 15:22 GMT)

Congrats on Pakistan's emphatic win over WI in the 1st quarter final. It was one he#$ of a performance! JUST ASWESOME!

Happy Pakistan Day everyone!

Posted by muzammal on (March 23, 2011, 15:07 GMT)


Posted by harshvardhan on (March 23, 2011, 9:30 GMT)

to all pakistanis When was the last time pak beat india in WC encounter anyone ? no prizes for guessing none times its 6-0(odis and t20) infact that bowlout match was too good the yorker specialists could not hit once and indian partimers did that hope to see a indo-pak semifinal at punjab chak de phatte naph de gilli subah jalandar shaame dilli

Posted by Amir khan on (March 23, 2011, 8:05 GMT)

Pakistan shall lose. Wi will destroy the team. Inshallah or not WI will win.

Posted by Khuram Khan on (March 23, 2011, 7:25 GMT)

Pakistan is a better team with two of the best bowlers of the tournament i.e. Afridi and Omar Gul.Batting is balanced but batsmen are not.The only reason Pakistan can lose here is by Divine intervention for the past sins of our Board and Management.

Posted by Watchoutitspaktime on (March 23, 2011, 7:23 GMT)

I think its time for Pak to unleash Junaid Khan against a team thats full of left-handers.

Go pakistan Go!!

Posted by Watchoutitspaktime on (March 23, 2011, 7:22 GMT)

I think its time for Pak to unleash Junaid Khan against a team thats full of left-handers.

Go pakistan Go!!

Posted by adnan jawaid on (March 23, 2011, 7:07 GMT)


Posted by Milton on (March 23, 2011, 6:31 GMT)

As a bangladeshi I can Pakistan will get like as host facility here in dhaka,a lot of supporter are waiting to get support their favourite team,which could be a vital opportunity for pak........ Pakistan will meet Semi against India.......

Posted by Jamal on (March 23, 2011, 6:30 GMT)

I see all pakistani team fans are nervous. But I don't see any other better match up for pakistan except having West-indies in quarter finals. At this stage I still see WI a weaker competition and ideal situation for pakistan to have. Pakistan should bring back Akhtar regardless how he performed in the last game and how he behaved off the field.

Posted by bilalbhat on (March 23, 2011, 6:07 GMT)

I think pakistan will win today

Posted by naveen on (March 23, 2011, 5:49 GMT)

I feel pakistan is a great side, even though they beat the top sides, still i have no confidence that packistan can win todays match..WI on the other hand is a very unpredictable side and Chris Gayle is enough to blow away any opposition..i want to see both teams playing with 100% commitment and let the better side win...

Posted by Milton on (March 23, 2011, 5:46 GMT)

As a bangladeshi I can Pakistan will get like as host facility here in dhaka,a lot of supporter are waiting to get support their favourite team,which could be a vital opportunity for pak........ Pakistan will meet Semi against India.......

Posted by NAUMAN on (March 23, 2011, 5:32 GMT)


Posted by Jeeshan on (March 23, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

Are some of you people commenting even watching these matches? Shoaib Akhtar needs to be included in your team. He is a match winner by trade. I was a fan of Wahab Riaz before the WC started but he is simply not taking wickets at the moment. Verdict - Riaz out, Akhtar in.

If Kamran Akmal had not left/dropped two catches off Taylor when he was on 0, Pak would be 6-0 and nobody would be questioning Shoaib. Shoaib has impressed and has been the opposite of hotheaded in this tournament. He is bowling line and length at 140+. He only needs the fielders to support him. And I am glad Shoaib cussed out Akmal in the locker room. That fool needed a good talking to.

Pakistan and Fast Bowling Zindabad

Posted by faridoon on (March 23, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

May i remind the readers, Wahab is also effective against left handers because he swings it in to them. I say leave the combination as is. Rehmans fielding and batting abilities trump Ajmals perceived threat. Hafeez can be used as the offspinner to counter lefty batsmen. Cant wait for this game to get underway

Posted by Asif Ali Not Zardari on (March 23, 2011, 5:11 GMT)

I don't know what was more shocking Kamran Akmal making a catch or us winning so easily as we did over Aussie Aussie Aussie.

Regardless lets hope the good form continues for both as we take down the West Indies, Inshaallah!!

Posted by Irfan on (March 23, 2011, 4:45 GMT)

WI will bat first and make 285 with Chris Gale will get his first WC 100 in 50 balls. Pakistan will be all out for 145. Inshaallah..

Posted by mir javid on (March 23, 2011, 4:37 GMT)

inshallah pak will win today. they need to keep their heads cool and should bring a surprise element in team like junaid khan.

Posted by Milton on (March 23, 2011, 4:23 GMT)

I hope will loose today......

Posted by Umer on (March 23, 2011, 4:16 GMT)

Inshaalah PAKISTAN will win today........... I thnk Afridi thnk bout Saeed Ajmal & Shoaib Akhter......... exceptations higher..................

Posted by Mark on (March 23, 2011, 3:51 GMT)

Close match...WI can pull an upset but unlikely. Pakistan will win this and possibly the cup unless the Aussies ruin the party.

Posted by jimbond on (March 23, 2011, 3:43 GMT)

Pakistan has done well till now, but have not learnt from their mistakes. At least in one of the next two matches, Kamran Akmal is going to start dropping sitters, and gift the match away. Either play him as a batsman or dont play him at all. Make Shafiq keep the wickets and add one attacking bowler- either Shoaib or Junaid; merely doing this would double Pakistan's chances of winning the cup.

Posted by Athul on (March 23, 2011, 3:27 GMT)

Pak was lucky so far that it was part of side A teams in WC. It never had to play under pressure so far. As per the new habit of last 2-3 years, Pak wil crumble aginst WI.

Posted by hate akmals on (March 23, 2011, 3:27 GMT)

Guys Mentioned earlier these are the players that will not score any runs today.

Hafeez Afridi Umer Kamran

Posted by Jaiya on (March 23, 2011, 3:22 GMT)

Why u all think rehman is good to open the bowling, it is not right to let spinner open the bowling.

Seamers are best to open so stop following ipl.

Since spinners started opening in IPL afridi wana copy IPL.

Posted by Sheru on (March 23, 2011, 3:18 GMT)

People who are sayng that give opening spot to razzaq or give chance to junaid I really like there decision, but fellows its not possible because afridi is a low confident captain who is not daring. Captain should be brave as Imran Khan not coward as Afridi. Sign for good captain is that who takes risk at crucial stage. Afridi is a worst captain because of him we lost t20 semi final, he dropped tall fast bowler Irfan becasue he dropped a simple catch?? come on guys what u have to say about kamran who drops more then 100000 catches. So just hope akhtar plays against west indies and in semi regardless who ever they playing against.

Posted by Zaki Shafqat on (March 23, 2011, 2:59 GMT)

Pakistan must bat first if the wicket is batsmen-friendly as the West Indies has proven to be much weaker side while chasing their target. Kamran Akmal must take the offensive role and keep the run rate above 5 for the first initial 20 overs. If we can make it happen, Pakistan will win comfortably.

Posted by RK on (March 23, 2011, 2:42 GMT)

There are two unpredictable thins in the earth one is Tsunami and other one is Pakistan cricket team. Pak team can loose to any club team. today they cannot won.

Posted by RK on (March 23, 2011, 2:38 GMT)

Pak will lose

Posted by Saeed on (March 23, 2011, 2:27 GMT)

Seeing as how bowling is Pakistan's strength, I think they need to focus on that & pick their best bowling attack. Forget about the batting, because at the end of the day, whether you have a batsman at #7 or #8 ..... it's the bowling that's going to win you the match. So it doesn't make sense to play an extra batsman just to cover up a a batting weakness ........ at the expense of a matchwinning bowler. Pakistan have many outstanding bowlers, but only 2 batsmen that can potentially win you a match ....... Umar Akmal & Abdul Razzak. They need someone to bowl at the death with Gul, .... & none of the other bowlers seem able to do that ....... so, that leaves only one other option ..... Saeed Ajmal. Now, if Ajmal plays, unfortunately Hafeez will have to sit out. & if Ajmal plays, that means that Akhtar will get to play ahead of Wahab. 1-Afridi, 2-Kamran, 3-Asad Shafiq, 4-Younis, 5-Misbah, 6-Razzak, 7-Umar Akmal, 8-Rehman, 9-Umar Gul, 10-Akhtar, 11-Ajmal.

Posted by Riaz Hasan, Catonsville, Maryland, U.S on (March 23, 2011, 2:16 GMT)

Razaq should bat ahead of Afridi. Pakistan should field the same team that beat Australia. It should be an interesting game. Wishing Pakistan all the best. Riaz Hasan

Posted by Usman on (March 23, 2011, 2:12 GMT)

I think Pakistan should play the winning team with minor changes, send Abdual Razzak to open, let him play his explosive shorts. after some settling down period. He probably will solve the openning problem, I agree with Shuraj

1)Mohammed Hafeez 2) Abdul Razzaq 3) Asad Shafiq 4) Younis Khan 5)Misbah Ul Haq 6)Umar Akmal 7)Kamran Akmal 8) Shahid Afridi 9) Saeed Ajmal 10) Umer Gul 11) Junaid Khan

Posted by gul on (March 23, 2011, 2:11 GMT)

Pakistan need to play shahzad and go with shoib akhtar along with ajmal and no wahab and rehman

Posted by harshvardhan on (March 23, 2011, 2:02 GMT)

Well u had such low expectation from mercurial pak team is disgraceful but i prefer younis over afridi for few sound reasons afridi keeps on making faces and as if punch his bowlers when they leak sundries pak-sl game he kept shouting at gul well captain u better shut ur mouth other players are not fools and know match-situation he never will set batting examples hence can never question batting collapses if any he goes to talk to bowler every over well u dont give speeches on turf he aint winston churchill

Posted by saandeep on (March 23, 2011, 1:45 GMT)

Go Windies.. I am expecting Roach to fire through Pakistan's top order.. Except for Gul, no other bowler has been exceptional in Pak.. Afridi got a bunch of wicket against the minnows.. His horrible batting continues and he couldn't bother less about it.

Posted by NZ on (March 23, 2011, 1:40 GMT)

Shoaib should start with 6 overs and then do small spells of two. That way if he does take early wickets we might not need him for a second spell and also have a low target anyway!!

Posted by ALI on (March 23, 2011, 1:38 GMT)

My calculations come to - Pakistan wins by 73 runs

Posted by NZ on (March 23, 2011, 1:38 GMT)

Waqar seems to have forgotten that he too was hit for quite a few by Jadeja at his peak. So if Shoaib bowled one bad over doesnt mean he is not better than Riaz. All the fans want to see PK win with Shoaib!!

Posted by faizan on (March 23, 2011, 1:32 GMT)



Posted by ata Ur Rehman Sahrahi on (March 23, 2011, 1:25 GMT)

pakistan is the best. it would be a celebration for all pakistanis if they won the toss and elected to bat first. if they lost the toss then their are less chances of winning the game. inshallah we will win the game

Posted by Guduji on (March 23, 2011, 1:03 GMT)

Shoab and Ajmal both should play in QF against WI. As they are the best for lefthanders.

Posted by rao on (March 23, 2011, 1:01 GMT)

I am concerned. I hope pak was playig against a stronger side. I have noticied pak has lost to weaker oppositions in critical matches at ICC events. I hope pak will win.

Posted by Aussi on (March 23, 2011, 0:37 GMT)

Afridi can play all the shots and should bat in top 4 rather playing mindless game at no.8. Longer the presence he has on field can destroy opposition's bowling plans. Hafeez should try to anchor the innings rather playing slog shots. He has ability to rotate the strike better than anyone else in Pak side.

Posted by rizwan on (March 23, 2011, 0:27 GMT)

Kamran, I am disappointed with your recent posts for its lack of quality. I remember reading 'genius on a knife edge 'and the anaysis of Miandad's last ball six on the Iindian psyche.These were gems and contained a pearl or two (''batting arc was free of swing and true of radius'' or ''could thread a ball between two fielders three yards apart '', the title genius on a knife edge et al ).I also enjoyed your article about bowling to Imran Khan, dare I say ,Neville Cardus would have been proud of such neat turn of the phrase.

But , your recent offerings are bland and also does not contain any insights.

Even in this day and age , quality trumps quantity, so , I urge you to go back to your roots.I would love to read about Zed's batting , Majid's 100 before lunch or even Salim Malik telling the opposing captain that he had won the toss when he hadn't !

Apart from Roebuck, Atherton,Menon , the rest of the journos can't string a sentence together.

Posted by Nabeel Siddiqui on (March 23, 2011, 0:19 GMT)

Both Wahab and Rehman have to go out for this one. Both are left handers and will be less effective against WI. Infact Wahab doesnot justify his place both on performance and lack of variety in his bowling. Shoaib has to play. But the fact that Hafeez bowled well against Australia, could go against Ajmal again.

Posted by Rahil on (March 23, 2011, 0:11 GMT)

ya i m agree with every one pakistan is playing now very good and i hope pakistan will win the world cup

Posted by Rahil on (March 23, 2011, 0:11 GMT)

ya i m agree with every one pakistan is playing now very good and i hope pakistan will win the world cup

Posted by iffi warraich on (March 23, 2011, 0:06 GMT)

win or lose GOD knows better but i must say one thing bring akhtar back in squad n also the most threating offspinner n wicket taker ajmal should be in da squad n rest of da team remain same kamran n hafeez opens n den asad yunis misbah umar afridi razzler pak attack akhtar wid ajmal n den gul the best death over bowler but the game surrounding around afridi coolness n how he will rotate his bowlers treat to watch and also our prayers so keep praying for our team inshallah we will win n bring da cup back after 19 years

Posted by Salma on (March 23, 2011, 0:01 GMT)

Pakistan batting is a big concern. No one is ready to go for a big score. Every one falls in 30s and 40s at most. Afridi must take responsibility and play a long innings. He should avoid going for sixes.

Posted by Mridul Agarwal on (March 23, 2011, 0:00 GMT)

Pakistan will bat first and lose all the wickets within 150 runs. Because it is a bowling track and well suited for West Indies. Then West Indies will struggle in their batting and will just win. Pakistan will not be seeing India in Semis.I know its sad but face the truth.

Posted by Faisal on (March 22, 2011, 23:59 GMT)

Forget about inclusion and exclusionS!!! Why is there no mention of the worst wicket keeper to have ever put the gloves on. We have a 10 very good players but ONE man stands between us winning this world cup and that is MR KAMRAN AKMAL! He should be behind bars! Believe me he will drop the simplist of catches and that is going to be all over. I don't agree that Afridi is a good captain. IF he was AKMAL would never have been playing. Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal should be peramently banned from any form of cricket

Posted by Ijaz on (March 22, 2011, 23:16 GMT)

Let the team management decide about the selection of playing eleven based on the pitch condition. The team management is the best jugde to do the job. Make no mistake, each and every match has to be won if want to end up the tournament at a high note. Let the management do their job and enjoy the matches.

Posted by true_windies_fan on (March 22, 2011, 22:42 GMT)

Wow ... it really baffles me how everyone appears to have written off west indies for this match ... especially against one of the most unpredictable sides in world cricket!!! ... these two teams are pretty talented and although pakistan may hold the edge based on their performances in the tournament so far ... the odds cannot weigh heavy in their favour ... i do not expect a close encounter for this game as i honestly believe the match will be won based on a couple special individual performances on one team and the other will wilt under pressure ... my obvious hope is that gayle and bravo will offer that moment of brilliance which would push WI thru to the next round (a repeat of the ICC Champions Trophy match in 2004 when we bowled out pakistan for 131 would definitely be nice)... but this is a game i don't have the guts to call ... i just look forward to a great game as i continue to "Rally Round the West Indies, Now and Forevermore! Gooooo Windies!!!

Posted by cricket lover on (March 22, 2011, 22:41 GMT)

ajmal question is a tough one. rehman has done well and ajmal can be a lose bowler. i would have akhtar in for wahab for someone said that one over against NZ shouldn't be the cause of him being left out. if afridi and waqar are clever they will use akhtar for first 4-5 overs, rest him and bring him back again when wicket falls. don't leave him for death overs.

Posted by ad on (March 22, 2011, 22:23 GMT)

I rather lose to West Indies than to India in semi-finals. But Australia is all set to beat India after Pakistan has given them a serious wake up call. Unlike most Australians come back harder than expected, Ricky ponting will play the innings of his life...And would retire after the world cup.Sachin's dream of winning a WC would go down in history books and Dhoni will loose the arm band. India would name Ghambir as the future captain. Newzeland will make it to the finals

Its hypothetical but I have reasons to think like this: hope to hear your opinion about this

Posted by DockWindow on (March 22, 2011, 22:23 GMT)

Guess the only person still actively playing from the 1996 world cup QF that is referred in this article?

Posted by abu on (March 22, 2011, 22:05 GMT)

Shoaib akhtar should not play against WI as he is not fit and wahab should play. best of luck Pakistan

Posted by Kamran on (March 22, 2011, 22:00 GMT)

Pakistan won against Aussies because of UDRS. This world cup is not only open but clean also.

Posted by Earl Adams on (March 22, 2011, 21:56 GMT)

I feel the West Indies should play 3 fast bowlers. Benn and Sarwan should left out. We need to go for the juglar this time.

Posted by pritam singh on (March 22, 2011, 21:51 GMT)

Some of my pakistani frndz here are already started discussing Indo-Pak Semifinal. However, may i suggest that India is yet to beat 4 times champions Australia, which by no means is an easy task. So it could very well be Pak vs Aus, if Pak advances to semis. All the best to you guys. Inshallah see you in semis.

Posted by Fateh Veer Singh on (March 22, 2011, 21:50 GMT)

Cris Gayle will get his ton and west indies will upset the world.

Posted by Balbir on (March 22, 2011, 21:43 GMT)

Team selection and batting line up for my winning West Indies team VS Pakistan:

D. Smith, C Gayle, R. Sarwan. D. Bravo (wkpr), S. Chanderpaul, A. Russel, K. Pollard, D. Sammy, D. Bishoo, K. Roach, R. Rampaul

Posted by stephon on (March 22, 2011, 21:40 GMT)

we pray to JESUS that West indies will win tomorrow only jesus nows the out come

Posted by Tuffey on (March 22, 2011, 21:35 GMT)

I duno when Captains like WASEEM & IMRAN have said that Ajmal should b in the team. Gul should open the bowling and Hafeez should not be in Opening position, then what is making the Coach and current captain to NOT follow their advises. They had been the most successful players and captains of their times. Intikhab, Waqar & Afridi !!!! Please listen to them. Hafeez should b rotating in batting line. I think the line up should like this, even in Semi 1. KAMRAN 2. ASAD (he is almost doing opening in both matches so y not place him at opening, if he has shown his form in compare to Hafeez or Shahzad) 3. YOUNIS 4. MISBAH 5. UMAR 6. HAFEEZ / RAZZAQ (depending upon need) 7. RAZZAQ / HAFEEZ 8. AFRIDI (his batting form made him deserve this position) 9. GUL 10.RIAZ/ABDUR REHMAN 11. SAEED (in the presence of saeed, even the need of Hafeez wll b obsolete and team can afford both ARehman & Saeed) number of runs hafeez is making, atleast AR & Saeed can make them in combined, so please ACCEPT

Posted by Shak on (March 22, 2011, 21:28 GMT)

Expecting any run from Afridi is useless, so why not Afridi comes to open the inning. If he stays he will make run if not still no effect. Pakistan should give some shock treatment to WI instead of being predictable. I agree Shoaib had just one bad over, he should be back in place of Wahab. It was Afridi's bad captaincy against New Zealand, when he finished all overs from Gul in PP3. He should have kept Gul over for end, one wicket at that moment would have put break on NZ scoring. By the way, Pakistan was winning that game too, it was just 4 overs and Kamran keeping which came in the way of win.

Posted by Jahanzeb on (March 22, 2011, 21:18 GMT)

Pakistan will win by 75 runs.

Posted by fahad on (March 22, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

Today Inshaallah Pakistan will win..............! hope i m r8.

Posted by Awais on (March 22, 2011, 20:57 GMT)

I do not have the stats but i dont remember Ajmal doing particularly better against left handers rather it was a left hander who blasted Ajmal for 3 sixes and snatched world T20 final berth from Pakistan.

Posted by shaheryar on (March 22, 2011, 20:54 GMT)

Where have you been man? Anyway welcome back and you us a lot more articles before this world cup is over.

Posted by Farooq on (March 22, 2011, 20:54 GMT)

"even though if you were to pick your quarter-final opponents it would be a straight choice between the West Indies and New Zealand". The correct statement should be: It would be a staright choice between the West Indies and England.

Posted by Marina on (March 22, 2011, 20:37 GMT)

Jivey Jivey Pakistan.

Posted by rocketman on (March 22, 2011, 20:21 GMT)

Thanks Mr Abassi for a great write up. The only thing I feel sad about is that Shoaib's career ended due to an idiot dropping a catch. I feel very nervous for tomorrows match. Anything can happen. Inshallah we win

Posted by Rizwan Yahya on (March 22, 2011, 20:20 GMT)

As always brilliant article, as far as saeed ajmal is concerned, he might be an attacking bowler but one needs to remember that you have wicket taking bowlers in the shape of Umar Gull, Shahid Afridi and Adbul Razzaq, so it is good to have a containing bowler in the shape of Abdul Rehman.. It irritates the batsmen if they cannot score freely, they tend to make mistakes on bowlers where they think they can make runs.. It is not a good idea to switch AR with SA at this stage, he hasen't had any match practice either. As far as Wahab Riaz and Shoaib Akhtar are concerned.. Shoaib has experience and speed but no control and "head" to use it properly. I mean come on, full tosses outside off stump (nearly wides) and at hip height to a well settled batsman?? thats not mistake, thats blunder! at least WR remembers to hit the ball on the pitch!! (we know our might right now are the bowlers only).. Keep the batting line as it is and FGS ask Akmal to play with a little Foot Work!!

Posted by Hassan Hamid on (March 22, 2011, 20:05 GMT)

I would like to see Shoaib back in the side in place of Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal to be given a chance to apply the perfect strategy against the left handed Batsmen..If Pakistan wins this,they are surely going to do well in Semi's :)

Posted by Rocky on (March 22, 2011, 20:03 GMT)

Indo-Pak CWC final will be a dream come true for all cricketing fan! :)

Posted by Rash Mahmood on (March 22, 2011, 19:58 GMT)

Ajmal in - Rehman out.. as they say horses for courses..

Posted by Atif M Khan on (March 22, 2011, 19:55 GMT)

Firstly, I would not consider pakistan as a favourite because the day when they perform then only you can call them favourties. I am sure that Afridi will not be distrubing the winning comnination but I was a captian, I would have taken Ajmal in place of wahab. The only reason for this is to go with spin attack. WI have got five or six left handed batsmen. Ajmal has been great attacking bowler where as Rehman knows very well how to contain. Afridi could be the trimph card for this and if pakistan qualify for the next round. I am sure that "Afridi ka balla chalay ga".

Good Luck to Greens.

Posted by Zakir Khan on (March 22, 2011, 19:51 GMT)

this current Pakistan team has made us proud. before the start of the tournament, nobody was ready to consider us as serious contenders for the trophy but our team has proved them goes to the whole team.Afridi and Waqar Younis deserve all the credit for transfering this team into a fighting unit from a complete disaster. the whole nation will pray for the team success in its vital game against WI of luck to Afridi and team.Pakistan Zindabad.

Posted by krishna on (March 22, 2011, 19:48 GMT)

Hi: I am surprised that you had low expectations for Pakistan team. With the kind of bowling you have and a well rested team, Pakistan is always a favorite to fire. You always restrict the team to a decent chasing total. Some concern will be on fielding and somewhat the top order batting. It is going to be interesting from now on.

Posted by Saiful Ansari, Leesburg VA USA on (March 22, 2011, 19:29 GMT)

If the young guns Hafeez, Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal fire up, Pakistan will roll over the Windies. Otherwise it will be a close game. I still feel YK & Misbah need to build and play a long innings.

Windies are a good young side. Pak needs to be wary about Gayle. If he gets in he can change the complexion of the game single handedly. The good thing is that the same thing can be said of Razzak & Afridi.

Over all we can expect a good match. Its a pity one of these teams will go home.

Posted by Amir on (March 22, 2011, 19:27 GMT)

I am agree with Abbasi, Pakistan should not take WI lightly. So far Pakistan playing great cricket and every one should be scared of Pakistan. I am still confused about Ajmal because Rehman bowled really good in opening spell and may Ajmal will take some time to adjust with new ball. Pakistan should open attack with spin because when Gail plays aggressive shots then its hard to stop him. Toss will be crucial but team playing best will win at end.

Posted by Imran on (March 22, 2011, 19:24 GMT)

I totally agree with you about pakistan being the underdog for this world cup. They are the top team in group A shows that they have the ability to go all the way. I am sure if they stick to the game plan they will go to the final against South Africa. Good luck to them.

Posted by Saood on (March 22, 2011, 19:20 GMT)

Getting Gayle and Smith out quickly will be key for Pakistan and an opening partnership of 40 plus would help them tremendously.

Posted by k.qureshi on (March 22, 2011, 19:12 GMT)

Credit goes to Pakistan for beating Australia,however at no time they looked to be in total control after bowling them for 176.It sound silly to change the bowling line up but i believe in specialists and i would definitely bring Ajmal for Rehman and either Shoab or Junaid for Wahab.

Posted by Saiful Ansari, Leesburg VA USA on (March 22, 2011, 19:12 GMT)

Even on their good days, Pak is at best unpredictable. Chasing a small score against the Aussies, the fans were frightened by the wobble in the middle. Pak lost Younis, Misbah and Afridi in quick successions. Pak is no S.Africa or India and Windies should be feeling good facing Pak in the quarter finals. From here onwards it is about the team that can take pressure. If Pak batting crumbles against the Windies like Bangladesh did they will be eliminated. The key is Younis or Misbah in the middle. The two veterans or one of the two have to play a long & good knock, with Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal in supporting roles, if Pak can get to a decent total. Winning the toss is crucial, as batting second and chasing is not Pakistan's forte. Bowling a good line and length is another key. The question is if the bowlers come out with a mindset they showed against the Aussies or they bowl a poor line&length as against New Zealand. If it is a close game Windies will sniff a win & go for the jugular.

Posted by Acidman on (March 22, 2011, 18:57 GMT)

I really hope Pakistan bat first.....they are very nervy in run chases and i would like to see saeed ajmal in the team for rehman as he is more of a threat. As always though.....the opening combination really needs to put runs on the board and get the team off to good starts, can't see how this problem will ever go away anytime soon. I am confident pakistan will win but you never know if chris gayle has his day....but then we are waiting for Shahid Afridi to have his too!!

Posted by Ghaus on (March 22, 2011, 18:55 GMT)

Pakistan is doing fine except Afridi should allow Razzak to play ahead of him. He is a good batsman and need some to settle down prior to playing his shots.

Posted by Anand on (March 22, 2011, 18:50 GMT)

The title is unfair on Pakistan. I am from India but I admire this Pak team for its courage and talent. Their bowling seems to be getting it right (barring Ross Taylor's onslaught) and even Kamran Akmal has begun catching now. I guess if Younis, MIsbah, Afridi and Umar Akmal grit their teeth and refuse to gift their wickets away for 3 more matches, Pak can repeat 1992 heroics. They surprised a lot of people by beating Aus and SL, but they did not surpass expectation. This team had it in them to beat everyone, its just a question of getting their act together.

Having said that, we have the two most unpredicatable teams of the tournament clashing. A Gayle special will seal it for W Indies and a Younis/Afridi special should do it for Pakistan. For the sake of cricket lover4s I wish both happen and we will see who has the nerve to corss the finish line first. Predicting the winner of this match is probably the most difficult one, but if I have to choose only one, I would say Pakistan

Posted by mohsin on (March 22, 2011, 18:47 GMT)

Junaid khan should be given a chance . Teams havent seen him yet and he could come as a surprise package same as AMir was in 2010 T20 world cup .

Posted by Qaiser (Cardiff UK) on (March 22, 2011, 18:39 GMT)

Fantastic colum from Kamarn Bhai.

I think Afridi,s captaincy will be key in this should use his cool head and Pakistan will be in semis.We will play against India in semis and beat them on their home soil.

Posted by Ahmer on (March 22, 2011, 18:37 GMT)

No mention of great Shoiab Akhtar in your article???

He should be an automatic selection...his 5-7 overs are any time or day, better than 10 overs from Wahab Riaz...Pak plays, on an average, 6 bowlers (1.Afridi, 2.Gul, 3.Hafeez, 4Saeed ajmal / Rehman, 5. Razzak, 6. Shoaib) so the people who say that Shoaib cant go the complete mile of bowling in death overs / complete 10 overs, we have alternates...use them if Shoaib is not up to it...besides, Ross Taylors hammering was a "One off"..I dont recall Shoaib going for so many EVER!..mind you, i see / follow cricket as much as anyone can possibly do!

Posted by Shuja on (March 22, 2011, 17:54 GMT)

I would first of all like to congratulate the Pakistan cricket team for making it to knock out stage.I think the team is playing in true spirit and have high morale. They were the underdogs but the way they have performed in the league phase has not only surprised many but also raised the expectations of the team now. I think Pakistan should spring up some changes in the team and their batting order. My team would go as follows 1)Mohammed Hafeez 2) Abdul Razzaq 3) Asad Shafiq 4) Younis Khan 5)Misbah Ul Haq 6)Umar Akmal 7)Kamran Akmal 8) Shahid Afridi 9) Saeed Ajmal 10) Umer Gul 11) Junaid Khan

Pakistan can bring an element of surprise in Junaid Khan and also an change of angle with his slingy bowling action. I saw him practising in nets today and might be considered in for the playing XI. Also promote Abdul Razzaq as an opener and give him time to settle down and then blast off.

Best of luck Pakistan. Hope you guys bring the cup back home after 19 years.

Posted by kalloo on (March 22, 2011, 17:43 GMT)

I am surprised that most experts do not consider Akhtar an automatic in elimination game. Barring one poor over against NZ, he has looked threatening and has taken key wickets. Furthermore, he is very effective against lefties. He has bowled very well in his 1st and 2nd spells. Keep him for 7-8 overs and alongwith Gul, Afridi and Ajmal, teams will not score on Pakistan. Pakistan can not chase over 250 and can not score more than 280. Pakistan needs wicket taking bowlers to restrict other teams. Pakistan's success agaisnt Australia on a very supporting wicket should not be looked as a strength in bowling. Wahab Riaz is not a wicket taking bowler and his batting is not going to win us the cup. As some have said, Akhtar will not lose Pakistan the cup but he can surely help Pakistan in winning it.

Posted by omar on (March 22, 2011, 17:40 GMT)

i think ajmal must play for rehman.

Posted by Nadeem Khan on (March 22, 2011, 17:21 GMT)

It feels like PAKISTAN must win this one. One most days, one expects Pakistan to win against the WI. Progress beyond QF is a bonus, but "Lucky" Pakistan got the easiest possible team to be able to reach to Semi final. Glory- An INDIA-PAKISTAN SEMIFINAL- is waiting for Pakistan team and nation. Just go through West Indian hurdle. :P

Posted by Shouldas – Wouldas - Couldas on (March 22, 2011, 17:20 GMT)

Gayle & Pollard's hitting power can upset the applecart !

Although momentum is with Pakistan, the knock-out stage does not follow the form and/or stats. I agree with you Toss, Pitch and Strategy will be the deciding factors. Batting first and posting a decent total will be massive advantage ! Gayle & Pollard's hitting power will have a direct bearing and can upset the applecart, otherwise Pakistan have the fire-power & variety to dismantle the Calypso batting .

Jawed, Karachi

Posted by Nadeem Khan on (March 22, 2011, 17:12 GMT)

Fingers crossed for a Pakistani success. A Pakistani win tomorrow will give one of much awaited clash in recent history. An INDIA-PAKISTAN SEMI-FINAL.

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Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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