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Sunday, March 15, 2015

ICC Cricket World Cup: Pakistan, West Indies In Quarterfinals!



Jonathan Carter For West Indies

Pakistan and West Indies rose to the occasion and ensured their places in the knockout stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup-2015. Notwithstanding the minnows both teams were facing they had to take the games seriously. In the first match West Indies without Gayle did win with a big margin as required for a better net run-rate against UAE. Chasing a modest target of 176 at Napier today West Indies won by 6 wickets with nearly 20 overs to spare making it almost impossible for the loser of the other match between Pakistan and Ireland to come up on better net run-rate and their place in the Quarterfinals was ensured except for a tie or no result in the other match.

Sarfraz Ahmed's Century For Pakistan
Pakistan bowling that has been responsible for the team’s great comeback stuck to their job and restricted Ireland to 237 in 50 overs despite a century by Porterfield (107 off 131 balls). Pakistan without Younis Khan did not take any chances in the chase and went steady with the only objective of a win. Their batting clicked too with Sarfraz Ahmed making the first hundred for Pakistan in this World Cup and it was also his maiden century in 38 one day internationals (101 not out off 121 balls). Finally Pakistan overwhelmed a promising Ireland by 7 wickets with nearly 4 overs to spare.

The much awaited spots in Pool-B are now final—1.India, 2.South Africa, 3.Pakistan and 4.West Indies. Accordingly the Quarterfinal line-up is clear: 

1.      March 18, Wednesday, Sydney               South Afria Vs Sri Lanka
2.      March 19, Thursday, Melbourne            India Vs Bangladesh
3.      March 20, Friday, Adelaide                    Australia Vs Pakistan
4.      March 21, Saturday, Wellington             New Zealand Vs West Indies 

Just thinking it would have been a mouth-watering prospect if the knockout stage was played as Super Eight Round Robin. I still maintain that this will be the right format for such a world event followed by billions of fans. See the irony now, the hard-fought dream of any team for reaching the next stage could be terminated with just one loss.

The winners of Quarterfinals 1 and 4 will meet in the semifinal in Auckland on 24th March. This means South Africa or Sri Lanka will meet either New Zealand or West Indies. The winners of Quarterfinals 2 and 3, that is to say, either India or Bangladesh with meet Pakistan or Australia on 26th March in Sydney. This again means India and Pakistan can possibly meet each other only in the semifinal like last time and that an India-Australia final on 29th March in Melbourne is also ruled out. New Zealand or South Africa or Sri Lanka or even West Indies are set to test their chances of reaching the final as the other team. Stay tuned. 

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