Clinical Pakistan storm into semi-final

Pakistan are two games away from repeating the heroics of Imran Khan's 1992 team after a crushing 10-wicket victory against West Indies in the first quarter-final in Dhaka.

Updated: March 23, 2011 22:22 IST
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Mirpur: Pakistan are two games away from repeating the heroics of Imran Khan's 1992 team after a crushing 10-wicket victory against West Indies in the first quarter-final in Dhaka. Mohammad Hafeez starred with bat and ball, beginning West Indies' decline with two early wickets then ending it with a brisk 61, while Shahid Afridi is proving an inspirational force and led from the front again with four more scalps as the spinners produced a ruthless display to dismantle West Indies for 112.

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Between the three of them, Pakistan's slow bowlers had figures of 27.3-5-64-8 and gave another example of how there is a threat from every part of the attack. At no point did Afridi need to fill overs, especially when the weakest link of the bowlers - Hafeez - managed to take 2 for 16 in his full allocation. Hafeez then dominated an unbroken opening stand with Kamran Akmal which wiped off the target with barely an alarm and 29 overs to spare.

The match represented a contest for as long as Chris Gayle was in the middle - the sum total of 2.5 overs. His departure sucked the life and belief from West Indies line-up with the rest remaining rooted to the crease, managing just seven fours and a solitary Shivnarine Chanderpaul six as he nudged his way to a hollow, unbeaten 44.

Some early aggression had proved the falsest of dawns. Devon Smith cut the first ball of the match to the point boundary and Gayle played two thumping shots, but in attempting his third boundary, he picked out Afridi at mid-off who did well to hold on to a stinging drive. With their talisman gone, West Indies became virtually scoreless.

Hafeez, handed the new ball after Abdur Rehman was left out, caused a host of problems for the left handers, mainly with his straighter deliveries, rather than any turn. The major damage came in his third over as he skidded one past Smith's inside edge, and three balls later, a similar delivery removed Darren Bravo as he thrust his pad down the line.

The next six overs brought just six runs as Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chanderpaul were rendered scoreless by the combination of Hafeez and Gul. The shackles were momentarily broken when Sarwan collected two boundaries off Wahab Riaz - the second a flowing cover drive - but they were the rare exception.

Hafeez was allowed to bowl eight overs for 12 runs though he was barely turning the ball and spinners continued to cause problems when Afridi had two close shouts for lbw in his first over. He used up a review with the first one but should have broken through in his second over when Gul didn't accept a chance at long-off when Sarwan, on 14, tried to go over the top.

Runs came at a painful rate, but at least the fourth-wicket pair were trying to set a platform. However, with the pressure building and Pakistan racing through the overs Sarwan felt he had to try some shots, but couldn't clear cover as he cut a delivery which bounced more than expected. Not for the first time, Afridi stood with arms aloft and it was just the start for the Pakistan captain.

Kieron Pollard did nothing to end the argument that he's a bully of weak bowling attacks when he bottom-edged a cut and Kamran Akmal's recent improvements continued with a sharp take. None of the West Indian batsman - barring Chanderpaul - had a clue which way Afridi was turning the ball and that was summed up by Devon Thomas' dismissal as he played back to a quicker ball.

From legspin to offspin it was then the turn of Saeed Ajmal to make more lower-order batsmen look foolish. Darren Sammy, who will struggle to justify his place in the team after this tournament, was turned square by a perfect doosra and the same delivery also removed Devendra Bishoo although this time the batsman helped with an inside edge.

Kemar Roach showed some of his team-mates that batting wasn't impossible as he accompanied Chanderpaul for 15 overs to add 40 but it was like trying to the plug the leak in the Titanic. Roach eventually chipped to midwicket and the innings ended with more than six overs remaining when Ravi Rampaul was bowled round his legs by Afridi.

Pakistan weren't going to ease their way to the target and after two overs had 25 on the board - it had taken West Indies until the 12th over to reach that point. Hafeez rode on the confidence of his bowling display, but some of the bowling served up was as bad as the earlier batting. A couple of tough half chances were spilled without affecting the result.

The victory means their first journey to India since 2007 to face either the co-hosts or defending champions in Mohali. Pakistan won't care who the opposition are, it will take an exceptional performance to stop them.

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