ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Pakistan v West Indies, World Cup 2011, 1st quarter-final, Mirpur

Pakistan mull including Ajmal

Osman Samiuddin in Mirpur

March 22, 2011

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Pakistan's resolve to not change a winning XI will undergo a stiff test ahead of the quarter-final against West Indies in Dhaka on Wednesday. Pakistan, who won five out of six games to top Group A, were fairly settled - by their standards - through that run. Only after five failures did they tweak the opening combination and injuries apart, Shoaib Akhtar represents the only other unforced change in personnel.

But with the possibility of as many as four left-handers in the West Indies top five - if Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns to shore up a middle order prone to collapse - Pakistan will consider the option of using Saeed Ajmal to off-set that.

The decision will not be an easy one. If Ajmal does play, he is likely to do so in place of Abdur Rehman. The left-arm spinner has played a quiet but significant role in Pakistan's campaign so far, opening the bowling in two of their last three games; though he has only three wickets in five games, he has been crucial in stifling opposition run-rates. Additionally, Pakistan feel safer in the knowledge that Rehman is useful - no more - with the bat and a capable, energetic fielder.

Afridi, as he has done all along, spoke of the need to not change the XI that beat Australia. "I'm very happy with my winning combination at this stage," he said. "You can't make changes if you can help it for a game like this. We have an offspinner in Mohammad Hafeez so let's see. We'll decide this evening once we've seen the conditions and the pitch."

Privately, however, the team management has acknowledged that Ajmal is under consideration, though the decision will be taken after a team meeting on Tuesday evening. Ajmal has been a peripheral figure so far in Pakistan's campaign, playing only in the game against Canada in which Rehman sat out with a leg injury. He bowled well enough in the game, picking up a wicket, though not perhaps well enough to change a situation which has seen him gradually lose the top spinner's slot over the last six months or so.

Shoaib Akhtar, Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman at a training session, Mirpur, February 16, 2011
Which of these three will play Wednesday's quarter-final? © AFP

Several sides have used off-spin to open against the West Indies top order through the tournament and with success. Chris Gayle, who is likely to be back tomorrow, fell to Johan Botha in the first over of the game against the West Indies. England used Graeme Swann in the game at Chennai and though he didn't strike early, the success he eventually had, along with James Tredwell, in the game makes the case for Ajmal stronger. R Ashwin opened for India in the last game the West Indies played and he struck early as well.

Whatever the line-up ultimately - and that would be the only likely change - Pakistan will go into the game with some confidence after the streak-breaking win against Australia in Colombo. The team arrived in Dhaka early Monday evening and had their first and only practice session at the Shere Bangla Stadium before the game, on Tuesday.

"To win a game against a side like Australia before the quarter-final is a big achievement," Afridi said. "The dressing-room atmosphere is very positive and very good. It was a great win. We really worked hard before this tournament and I don't think in my 14-year career we've ever worked as hard. Definitely, the expectation is greater now. We are feeling more confident."

Even though the West Indies lost their last two group games and haven't beaten a top side in an ODI since June 2009, Afridi was aware of the threat some of the relatively newer faces may pose. "These young guys are doing a great job. They have performed well, their bowling is good and that is why they are in the quarter-final. They have a very good unit, so we're not taking any team lightly especially at this stage."

A win on Wednesday would lead to a first World Cup semi-final since 1999, but the fifth straight ICC event - including the World Twenty20 - in which they've made the last four. "Before this World Cup I said I see my team in the semi-final and I want to see them there. My team is capable of doing that."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 42 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 8:24 GMT)

West Indies done the first step of this most Important Qf vs Paksitan as this is only way they can win by defending the total against possible brittle Pakistani batting line up.From the Pakistan prospect they must restrict thhis West Indian line up to below 220 as I can fancy them even though capable to chase 250+ total against the Spirited WI attack

Posted by Sunil on (March 23, 2011, 8:04 GMT)

Go Pakistan ... ! Pakistan will win this Quarter Final today.....scoring 270 runs against 254 runs by West Indies in World Cup 2011.

Posted by SAMIUR REHMAN on (March 23, 2011, 7:41 GMT)

Afridi should include Ajmal instead of Wahab Riaz and thats it.Pakistan can win this match. samiur rehman ,kuwait

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 7:40 GMT)

I think Abdur Rehman is Good Choice

Posted by naufil on (March 23, 2011, 7:34 GMT)

ajmal,akhter should play in quauter final because pakistan need these two players

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

do whatever plz win the match 2day...............................

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

I think we should select an extra batsman rather than bowler

we should go with

Umar Gul SHoab AKhta Shahid Afridi Hafeez AHmad Abdur Razzak

and rest of the six seats should must be filled by complete batsman

Because pakistan is week in Batting

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 7:09 GMT)

Shoaib Akhtar have to play in quarter final

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 6:41 GMT)

This I think is the banana skin game for Pak. If they win this one, my money is on them to go all the way

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

bowling attack should be umar gul . abdul razzaq , saeed ajmal , abdul rehman , shahid afridi , muhammad hafeez itx because WI alwax lacks to face spinning attack TREDWEEL wax a inexperience spinner of ENGLAND but he totally outclass the WI top order hope aour spinnerx will make a same job go GREENS make us proud

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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