ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

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

Favourites tag added to pressure - Waqar

Osman Samiuddin at the Shere Bangla Stadium

March 23, 2011

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

A ruthless Pakistan can be a frightening (and rare) prospect, for the opposition as much as themselves. Tournament winning Pakistan sides have not, historically, been as smooth in their early progress as this one. But history is only made so that it can either be repeated or eventually erased, and when Pakistan catch a roll, few things in the world are better to watch or harder to stop.

As lost as West Indies looked in Mirpur, Pakistan's intent from the very start was, well, frightening; a fruition of the days of sweat and nights of tired limbs they have talked about in the build-up to this tournament. They are focussed as they have rarely been before. As much exasperation as there will be at the continuing frailties of West Indian cricket, there should be recognition of Pakistan's excellence. "One should give credit to the Pakistan cricket team," Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, said after tha game. "I think we played very positive cricket, when we had the ball in our hands and when we batted superbly."

In picking Saeed Ajmal for Wednesday's quarter-final, Pakistan also showed an obvious but all-too-often absent tactical nous, and in continuing not to pick Shoaib Akhtar, an emotional rigidity. A semi-final spot is already a victory of sorts, and the kind of run that has seen them to it, the bonus.

If there could be favourites in a contest involving two mercurial sides, it was probably Pakistan and that brought with it a kind of pressure; with such adoring support, it may as well have been a home game as well. The New Zealand result aside, people have talked up Pakistan since early in the tournament and it is a tag that hasn't always settled easily with them. So to be so jitter-free in such a game took some doing, especially for a side that has struggled to kill games over the last year.

Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez put together an unbeaten 113-run stand, West Indies v Pakistan, 1st quarter-final, World Cup 2011, March 23, 2011
Waqar Younis was particularly pleased that Pakistan's openers finally came good © Getty Images

"It was a pressure game for us," Waqar conceded. "Everyone thought we are a far better side and when you are favourites or people think or talk about you being a good side, it creates pressure. But that pressure in a way gave us a boost when we walked in, and picking up Chris Gayle early gave us belief that we can do it straight away."

Their bowling - and even fielding - has in any case been mightily impressive. But the intent in the batting, to not only chase down an admittedly meagre target, but to do it with such conviction and with such a lack of damage - this was only their third ten-wicket win ever, remember - would have pleased them more. The opening pair, in this tournament, or ever for that matter, has not been their strong suit, which is why Waqar made special mention of Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal's unbeaten 113-run stand.

"Bowling has not been the issue in this tournament for us. Not just here, but when you go back to the New Zealand tour, or against South Africa or England, we've done really well with the bowling. We've struggled with the openers and it is very pleasing to see them get runs like this.

"I hope it helps us in the future games. Hafeez played an outstanding knock with the bat. Full credit to him; when he stuck in with the ball and when he went to bat, he looked like a man in form. The happiest thing for me and the team is that we finished it with command and I think that makes a big difference."

Perhaps it was only appropriate the performance came on March 23rd, or Pakistan Day, something that had crossed Waqar's mind the day before. It is a national holiday and celebrations back home were predictably prolonged. "The hopes in the country were pretty high today. I found out that there was no load shedding [mandatory power blackouts] today and that makes me happier. The entire country watched this game, they prayed for us and it's kind of a gift for them."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 25 
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Posted by siddharth on (March 26, 2011, 10:22 GMT)


Posted by siddharth on (March 26, 2011, 9:24 GMT)


Posted by muhammed on (March 26, 2011, 6:59 GMT)

Well done Pakistan team, well done Waqar and finally thank you Bangladesh fans for supporting Pakistan! Common fellow brothers in India come and support Pakistan at Mohali.

Pakistan team go and enjoy the occasion and play fearless cricket.

Posted by siddharth on (March 25, 2011, 18:59 GMT)

who said pakistan is favourite in this world cup?????? sry , pakistan but INDIA will not let u win this. this is our's.................GO INDIA GO....

Posted by shahid on (March 25, 2011, 16:38 GMT)

well done Pakistan my only concerns are shoaib akhter,s apearence in semi final vs India this match can be predicted on the grounds that shoaib will surely be given a spot in the team but if he did not come up with results then this match can not be won by any other formula unless shoaib is replaced as he was in QF(and that probably be a wise choice to bring him in the final against NZ/SL

Posted by Hassan on (March 24, 2011, 13:21 GMT)

I know Akmal brothers score whenever the target is so low that a performance of any single batsmen can make it achievable. However Hafeez did the same today. When are we going to have batsmen who perform under team pressure, the way they perform under personal pressure.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2011, 8:27 GMT)

Salute to Waqar Younis,his commitment,loyality and attitude towards Pakistan Cricket,

We all love you Waqar Younis,

Posted by Fahad on (March 24, 2011, 6:48 GMT)

Waqar Younis, hats off to you

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

Well done Waqar.Next PCB Chairman please? Mehdi Singapore

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

Well done men in green....almost flawless performance....I hope this approach of one match at a time continues in future...and we remain flawless...

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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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