Pakistanâ€™s Umar Akmal hits a shot during ICC Cricket World Cup Group A match against New Zealand in Pallekele 3/8/11.
The Pakistan cricket team was flying high with an undefeated record at the 2011 ICC World Cup. But they came crashing down to earth after a resounding 110 run defeat at the hands of New Zealand. On this day it was the Pakistani bats that disappointed the most, failing to even reach a double century after the Kiwis put up 302 runs in the first innings.
But up until that match the Pakistani batsmen and bowlers alike had been firing on all cylinders. Team captain Shahid Afridi had been putting in a true captainâ€™s performance as the teamâ€™s primary bowler. Through the first three matches, all Pakistan victories, Afridi led all bowlers in the tournament with 14 wickets. And this streak was capped by a five wicket performance against Canada that brought Pakistan to 3-0 overall and earned him Man of the Match honors. Afridi earned the same honors in Pakistanâ€™s second victory which came at the expense of Sri Lanka. Misbah-ul-Haq was the batting hero in that match with 83 runs, but it was Afridiâ€™s bowling dominance by way of four wickets that was the difference. And in Pakistanâ€™s opening round victory over Kenya it was once again a balance of brilliant batting and boffo bowling that brought about a lopsided 205 run victory. The Man of the Match was Umar Akmal with 71 runs and eight boundaries. But Afridi was also special, with five wickets and only 16 runs given up in eight overs of work.
When Pakistan is right they have been downright dominant. And the dominance has pervaded both the batting and the bowling. They have a relatively easy match upcoming against one-win Zimbabwe, followed by in infinitely tougher match against undefeated Australia. But as Pakistan sits just a shade behind Group A leaders New Zealand, their advancement to the quarterfinals is a likely occurrence. And if they can dust themselves off and confidently get right back on the horse that they charged in on, then this just might be a special World Cup for the men in green.