Pakistan v West Indies, Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final September 22, 2004

Pakistan upbeat after victory over India

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Inzamam-ul-Haq: leading from the front © Getty Images

If left to their own devices, one imagines that both England and Pakistan - two of the three teams still remaining in the Champions Trophy - would quite happily pack up their bags and walk away now. In the space of three days at Edgbaston, both have pulled off memorable victories against their arch-rivals, Australia and India, and whatever happens in the remainder of the competition, there will still be the warm afterglow from those matches.

However Pakistan's coach, Bob Woolmer, is not about to let his charges rest on their laurels, as they prepare to take on West Indies for a place in Saturday's final. "After games like that there is a tendency to come off the boil but we'll have to heat them up," he told the BBC. "The players have the ethic of trying to get better every day so they'll be well tuned-in for this match."

Since taking over as Pakistan's coach, Woolmer has overseen a gradual, but highly visible, upturn in the team's fortunes. Until the win over India, the results - an improved showing in the Asia Cup, followed by two narrow defeats against Australia at Amstelveen and Lord's - mattered less than the context, with the entire side visibly approving of his innovative brand of man-management.

Little changes to the balance of the team, such as the reintroduction of Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik at No. 3, and the use of Shoaib Akhtar as first-change seamer, have paid rich dividends, and Woolmer has struck an immediate chord with his captain, the newly slimline Inzamam-ul-Haq, whose 41 from 79 balls on Sunday was a vital aspect of Pakistan's victory over India.

"It's good to work with someone who commands such respect," said Woolmer. "If he leads from the front, the team will always work very hard." Midway through that last innings, Inzamam became only the second player after Sachin Tendulkar to pass 10000 one-day international runs, and Woolmer is fully aware of the experience that he brings to bear each time he sets foot on the pitch.

"I've worked with fitter and faster captains," he conceded. "But Inzamam has a good cricket brain, as you would expect from someone with his experience. He reacts to situations very quickly and has a strong character. He is an excellent captain."

Neither Woolmer nor Inzamam, however, was especially enamoured with the pitch they had landed for their semi-final. Hampshire's Rose Bowl has long had a reputation as being a difficult venue to bat at, and Woolmer conceded that concentration would be the key to survival. Inzamam's appraisal was even more blunt. "It is not a good one-day wicket," he said. "In my opinion it is a difficult track."

In that respect, West Indies have a slight advantage, seeing as they have already played one match at the Rose Bowl - their 138-run defeat of Bangladesh in their opening fixture. Furthermore, they have spent an entire summer getting to grips with English conditions, and in the one-day game they have fared pretty well. They reached the final of the NatWest Series at England's expense, and last week dumped South Africa out of the tournament in an impressive run-chase at The Oval.

"It's been a very long summer," admitted Brian Lara, West Indies' long-suffering captain. "But we've got a break after this and what we'd like to do is end on a high. It would be really nice if we could get one step further and get to the ICC final."