Champions Trophy: West Indies make it to final

West Indies are in the ICC Champions Trophy final after decisively beating Pakistan by seven wickets in the semi-final at Southampton today.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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Underdogs West Indies put themselves within sniffing distance of their first major title in years with a clinical seven-wicket demolition of Pakistan in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy cricket tournament here at the Rose Bowl today. After skittling out Pakistan for just 131 in 38.2 overs, West Indies overhauled the target comfortably in 28.1 overs to set up a summit clash with England at The Oval on Saturday. Pakistan never really looked to be in the game after suffering a sensational batting collapse which saw the team lose its last six wickets for just 31 runs after being placed at 100-4 at one stage. Sarwan shines The in-form Ramnaresh Sarwan starred in the West Indies run-chase with an unbeaten 85-ball 56 and fittingly hit the winning runs to send the handful of West Indies supporters in to a frenzy. Captain Brian Lara chipped in with a 30-ball 31 before retiring hurt. Pakistan raised hopes of a spirited fightback when Shoaib Akhtar, who breathed fire in helpful conditions, got rid of the top two West Indies batsmen in a fiery first spell. But he failed to get support from the other end and with the target hardly intimidating, the Caribbeans launched an aggressive chase to romp home. West Indies overcame the early loss of Chris Gayle (1) and Wavell Hinds (5) before displaying some really aggressive batting to seize the initiative completely from the Pakistanis. Sarwan hit two fours off Sami before picking the same bowler for a six and a four in the bowler's third over. Lara also looked in great touch, hitting three fours in an over by Abdul Razzaq to raise the 50 run partnership for the third wicket with Sarwan in just 49 balls. Lara hit by Shoaib But Lara's exploits met a premature end when he took his eyes off a missile of a delivery by Shoaib to suffer a blow just under his ears. With West Indies already cruising at 76 for two in 15 overs at that stage, Lara decided to heed to the physio's advice and returned to the pavilion. His cameo knock included five fours. Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 11 before being caught by debutant Salman Butt off Shoaib Malik. Pakistan paid the price for electing to bat on a fast-paced track in overcast conditions as their batsmen failed to apply themselves in the conditions. Credit should go to West Indies medium pacers who plotted the downfall of their rivals with some intelligent bowling and made the task of their batsmen easy by ensuring a small total on the board. Disastrous innings Pakistan started on a disastrous note, losing their first wicket with just one run on the board, and never really recovered with West Indies striking crucial blows at regular intervals. The highest scorer was Yaseer Hameed, run out for 39, as the West Indies bowlers completely dominated the strong Pakistan batting line-up. Although Corey Collymore, Dwayne Bravo and Wavell Hinds picked two wickets each, it was Bravo who impressed the most with his teasing line and length as well his two brilliant run outs -- that of Hameed and Abdul Razzaq (6). Hinds picked both his wickets in the 35th over when he had Inzamam caught behind by Courtney Browne for 21 and Moin Khan leg before for nought to leave Pakistan reeling at 112 for seven. Salman Butt, brought as an opener for this crucial tie in place of an out-of-form Imran Farhat, hardly survived two balls before he was caught by Ramnaresh Sarwan off Ian Bradshaw for nought. Wickets tumble But Pakistan overcame the early loss somewhat with left-handed opener Hameed combining with Shoaib Malik to put on 64 runs for the second wicket, the highest for the innings. However, that turned out to be the only bright spot for Pakistan who had defeated arch-rivals India en route to the semi-finals. Hameed looked in great touch, cracking six fours in his 56-ball knock, including two in one over by Bravo. The opener was run-out by a brilliant piece of fielding by Bravo from the deep when he attempted to take a second run off a fumble by the fielder, the scorecard reading 65 for two. Pakistan lost another wicket six runs later when Malik was dismissed by Bravo after he nicked one to the keeper. Two more batsmen - Youhana (12) and Inzamam lost their wickets in similar fashion, both guilty of chasing deliveries outside the off-stump. After Hinds' double blow in the 35th over, Pakistan were really staring down the barrel on 112 for seven. There was no fightback from the lower order including Shahid Afridi who did manage to hit one six and a four before being stumped off part-time bowler Chris Gayle for a 13-ball 17. (PTI)