They were hapless. They were cornered. The whole West Indian team was humiliated on the grandest stage of all-the World Cup. And no less than the World Cup quarter final. Tonight the bereaved fans might be thinking it would have been better had their team not qualified for the knock-out stage. A neutral would claim that anyone of either Bangladesh or Ireland would have been far exciting prospects.
The West Indies team fell like a heap and was dusted off by some superb Pakistani bowling. Gayle seems to have lost his touch. The way he throws away his wicket is a blessing for the opposing team. Being very much a senior player in the present line-up, he had to accept responsibility. Once again, he failed miserably. Scooping up a catch to the best fielder is hardly the way to go about assuming responsibility. With Afridi catching that bullet flying off Gayles’ bat, the tone was set for what was to follow.
The Pakistani bowlers were spot on, with their line, length and ability to take wickets; they rolled over the West Indian batting line-up. The trick of having Hafeez open the bowling proved to be a clever one, with figures of two for sixteen, he held a stranglehold over the batsmen. Ajmal had been brought in especially for this game, keeping in view the number of left-handed batsmen in the Windies line-up. He bamboozled with his ‘doosra’ and did the job he was brought in to do. Once again the star performer with the ball was the captain himself. Taking four more scalps in this game, he has now added to his tally of wickets as the most successful bowler in this World Cup. Simply put, the Pakistani bowlers were a class apart from their opponents. The game was finished by the time the Pakistani fielders marched off the field.
With the confidence of having such a small target to chase, even our openers came into form. Joining the party, they have done themselves a huge favour by playing positively and taking momentum forward into the semi-final. I think they just needed such a knock to get into the groove. The confidence gained will go a long way in facing either Lee or Zaheer at Mohali.
To say that this was a solid performance in all aspects is not making things up. Even our usually dismal fielding was excellent today. Talk about having a perfect day!
This quarter-final was one every Pakistani cricket fan will remember for a very long time. As far as the semi-final goes, the opponents are yet to be determined. The question is will it be India or Australia? The answer is that the Pakistanis don’t really care. They are ready to roll over whoever gets in their way!