Cricket World Cup 2011

Preview: Windies vs Pakistan

2011-03-23 09:51
One to watch, Andre Russell. (AFP)

Mirpur - The first quarter-final clash is here, and the Windies will look to counter the odds and upset a rampant Pakistan.

Although Pakistan go into the contest as favourites, there are significant signs of an improvement in the West Indies' overall performances, with star players new and old coming into their own as the tournament progresses.

Undoubtedly the return to the Windies team of Chris Gayle, Kemar Roach and Shivnarine Chanderpaul will bolster the Caribbean men's hopes of creating an upset, but much relies on their concentration as a team in critical moments.

Conversely, with only one loss in the group stages, the Pakistanis will feel very confident heading into the quarter-final.

There one main concern is the opening partnerships, with combinations including wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal failing as yet to secure a fast and challenging start to their batting innings.

That said, the middle order is showing signs of resurgence, with all eyes on Umar Akmal and captain Shahid Afridi, who has yet to fire with the bat.

Pakistan's bowlers have thus far been the key to their success, with Afridi and seamer Umar Gul proving their worth on slow, low pitches.

Venue guide

Dhaka, Sher-e-Bangla stadium

Form guide

Pakistan WWLWW
West Indies LLWWW

Watch out for...

In their Chennai defeat against England, West Indies threw punch after punch to leave their opponents weak at the knees, but they lacked the subtlety in between whiles to make their position count.

Nevertheless, the star of their show was undoubtedly the 22-year-old Andre Russell, whose performance with bat and ball could and should have been the decisive factor.

His energetic seamers claimed career-best figures of 4 for 49, and he followed that up with a rough-diamond 49 from 46 balls. In a contest that could be decided by individual brilliance, he has two strings with which to make his bow.

Pakistan have long cultivated a reputation as mercurial performers, but scarcely a match goes by these days without a command performance from Umar Gul.

He's picked off 13 wickets in his six outings in this World Cup, including nine in the past three games, in which time he has been promoted to new-ball status as well.

His effortless variations provide a threat at any stage of an innings, but never more so than at the death when his pinpoint yorkers can prove unhittable.

With Chris Gayle at the top of West Indies' order, and Kieron Pollard lurking at the bottom, his ten overs could prove instrumental in deciding the course of the match.

Team news

West Indies (possible): Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy (capt.), Devon Thomas (wk), Andre Russell, Sulieman Benn, Kemar Roach, Devendra Bishoo.

Pakistan (possible): Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (capt), Abdul Razzaq, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz.

Pitch and conditions
Darren Sammy reckons the Dhaka wicket looks like "a cricket pitch", which is just as well really. Still, Bangladesh managed to make it look like a minefield on West Indies' last visit to the venue, as Sammy, Roach and Benn routed their opponents for 58 in 18.5 overs.

There is some grass on the surface, but it ought to be full of runs, as Virender Sehwag demonstrated during his 175 in the opening match of the tournament. The weather is set to be humid, with some prospect of dew in the second innings.

Stats and trivia

West Indies have won 64 of their 114 ODIs against Pakistan, but just two of the past 13 completed matches, dating back to January 2005.

Shahid Afridi's highest score in four World Cup campaigns is 37 against Zimbabwe in June 1999. However, he has claimed 17 of his 24 wickets in the current tournament.

West Indies are bidding to reach their fifth World Cup semi-final, and their first since 1996. Pakistan reached the semis in five of the first seven tournaments, but haven't got that far since losing the final in 1999. 



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