Pakistan Destroys the West Indies
By Will Davies for The Wall Street Journal
So much for close contests in the World Cup quarterfinals. In the first knock-out match Wednesday, Pakistan thrashed the West Indies by 10 wickets thanks to an inspirational bowling performance spearheaded by Mohammad Hafeez (2 for 16) and captain Shahid Afridi (4 for 30).
The West Indies batsmen were simply unable to cope with Pakistani spin, slumping to 111 all out – the team’s third-worst batting performance in World Cup history.
In one dramatic spell, the West Indies went from an already troubling 69 for 4 to an utterly disastrous 71 for 8 as Afridi & Co. showed no mercy (much like the dreaded advertisements on television after every wicket).
Afridi’s bowling at this tournament has been phenomenal. He is easily the top bowler with a handsome tally of 21 wickets, and his trademark celebration – arms outstretched with his two index fingers pointing to the heavens – could very well be the lasting image of the 2011 World Cup.
The West Indies team looked out of the game as soon as danger man Chris Gayle was caught by Afridi for eight. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, recalled to the team for the quarterfinal, was the only player to offer any real resistance, but he still couldn’t score fast enough and was left stranded on 44 not out at the end of the innings.
It took Pakistan just under 21 overs to reach the West Indies’ meek total, without the loss of a single wicket. Fresh from his great bowling performance, Hafeez clubbed 61 runs, while much improved wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal notched up 47. The two simply poured buckets of salt in weeping West Indian wounds.
It was humiliating for the West Indies. Not only did it mark the end of the team’s World Cup campaign, the abject performance could also have tragically hammered yet another nail into the coffin of Caribbean cricket. Despite its gloriously rich history, the sport there has been in rapid decline for more than a decade and the team’s latest efforts won’t have helped a bit.
But credit must go to Pakistan. If the team continues to play like this, Pakistan will win the World Cup. These players have to contend with so much more than other sportsmen – from the security situation back home to the involvement of former teammates in betting scandals. So while Wednesday’s match was depressing for the West Indies, for Pakistan, it was truly inspirational. And what better a day for it than March 23 – Pakistan’s Republic Day – which commemorates the signing of the Lahore Resolution back in 1940.
One more thing: If Australia loses tomorrow, we can look forward to the mother of all World Cup semifinals – India vs. Pakistan in Mohali on March 30.
Whisper it, but it’s surely destined to be.