First of all, thank you to Evander for his sterling work in keeping up with the dizzying merry-go-round that is the 2011 Cricket World Cup. We’re now in the knockout, quarter-final stages. The usual eight suspects went through, and now the West Indies—winners of the first two tournaments in 1975 and 1979—have to go home, having been eviscerated by the Pakistan side.
What can one say about Pakistan? Eight months ago, they were at their lowest ebb. They had lost the Test and one-day series in England, and three of their players had been suspended after being accused of cheating. Their star player, Shahid “Boom Boom” Afridi had bowed out of Test cricket, claiming in effect that he simply didn’t have the temperament to concentrate for that long—thus his nickname. They looked as if they’d rather be anywhere else than on a cricket team. Now, they’re bouncing around the ground as though they can’t imagine not playing cricket 24/7. Accident prone wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal is catching the ball, the side beat the Australians—the first time the Aussies had lost a World Cup match in 33 games—and they then thrashed the West Indies to move into the quarter-finals. In the thick of it is Afridi, who’s collected the most wickets in the tournament so far, and seems to be bursting with pleasure every time he gets the ball in his hand.
“Which Pakistan will show up?” is one of the questions that’s always asked at the beginning of a game featuring the side: will it be the who-gives-a-damn side or the world-beaters? Pakistan is set to play the winners of the next mega-match: Australia versus India. Whoever they play, stay tuned: that match may well be, quite literally, explosive.