India and Pakistan have qualified for the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka) and Mahmudullah (Bangladesh) ensured that all four Asian Test teams would feature in the last eight of the tournament.
"Wahab Riaz is the best bowler in this Cricket World Cup so far."
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is hotting up as the Round-robin stage of the tournament concluded on March 15.
The mega event started with fourteen teams, with eight teams advancing further to the knockout stages.
All four Asian Test teams, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have reached the quarter-finals. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and West Indies have also made it to the last eight.
With World Cup Fever high in South Asia, we provide a roundup of the top four Asian teams during the Pool matches:
Sri Lanka lost to New Zealand by ninety-eight runs in the opening game of the tournament, before scraping through against Afghanistan with ten balls to spare.
In their next match, centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara ensured a ninety-two run win versus Bangladesh at Melbourne.
It got even better for Sri Lanka in the clash of the Lions. Sri Lanka chased England’s total of 309 with utmost ease as they won the game by nine wickets.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Sangakkara smashed the English bowlers to all parts of the ground, as they remained unbeaten on 139 and 119 respectively.
Having conceded 200 odd runs off the last sixteen overs, Sri Lanka fell short by twenty-nine runs against Australia. Despite Sangakkara notching up his third consecutive century, the 377-target set by the Baggy Greens was just too much.
Sangakkara scored his fourth hundred on the trot as Sri Lanka convincingly beat Scotland by 148 runs in their final Pool game. Sangakkara has scored 496 runs so far at a staggering average of 124.00.
Sri Lanka finishing in third place with eight points have qualified for the last eight.
The Bengali Tigers came quickly out of the blocks as they defeated Afghanistan by 105 runs at Canberra’s Manuka Oval courtesy of some fine batting from Mushfiqur Rahim (71) and Shakib Al Hasan (63).
After gaining a valuable point against Australia due to a wash out, Bangladesh were outclassed by Sri Lanka in their next match. The Islanders batting first scored 330-1 in their fifty overs. In reply, Bangladesh were all out for 240.
In their fourth game, Bangladesh were stretched to the end by Associate team Scotland. Chasing 319, Bangladesh reached their target in the 49th over, with four wickets still in hand.
Bangladesh next faced England in what was a Do or Die match for both sides. Mahmudullah notched up his maiden international century as Bangladesh made a modest total of 276-6.
With England losing wickets at key intervals, Bangladesh held their nerves as they won the game by fifteen runs.
Bangladesh did fought hard against New Zealand in their final Pool match, but the Kiwis chased 289 with seven balls to spare. Despite losing, Bangla were the only side to score 200+ against the Black Caps during the Pool games.
Bangladesh have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time.
Team India have played Box Office cricket in Pool B, simply cruising to the quarter-finals of the tournament.
In their opening encounter, India repeated history by defeating Pakistan for the second time in Australia during a World Cup.
Virat Kohli hit a match winning 107 as India comfortably beat the Green Shirts by seventy-six runs in Adelaide.
Similar to the first game, in their next four Pool matches, India bowled teams out inside fifty overs as they registered supreme wins against South Africa, UAE, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe.
Shikhar Dhawan returned to form, with two centuries to his name. Mohammed Shami has been quite sensational, taking fifteen wickets at a healthy average of 12.60.
Crediting former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar for improving his bowling, Shami said:
“I did have a chat with Shoaib bhai and he suggested that I should reduce my big strides. So shortened my stride and it has worked.”
The Men in Blue were unbeaten as they topped their Pool with ten points.
Superb, surprising, inconsistent, unpredictable, hot and cold are words best to describe Pakistan in this World Cup.
In their opening game versus India, once again Pakistan failed to stop the rot as they suffered their sixth consecutive defeat against their arch-rivals.
Pakistan persisting with the out of form Younis Khan and leaving out Yasir Shah backfired as they lost to West Indies by 150 runs.
Against Zimbabwe, Pakistan knew they had to play like Imran Khan’s 1992 ‘Cornered Tigers’. Having scored just 237-7, Pakistan speedsters came into action as they bowled out the African team for 215.
Pakistan’s fragile batting had a good work out against UAE at Napier, clinching a comfortable win by 129 runs.
Pakistan went into their penultimate game, finally playing specialist wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
The aggressive and lethal quartet of Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan forced another choke from the Proteas as Pakistan won this crucial game by 29 runs (D/L method).
Highlighting Riaz as a genuine threat, former Australian bowler, Stuart Clark said: “Wahab Riaz is the best bowler in this Cricket World Cup so far.”
In their pre quarter-final knock out game, the Irish lightninig did not struck twice as witnessed in 2007. Sarfraz scored his maiden century as Pakistan claimed a thumping seven wicket win.
The Green Shaheens in third place with eight points have progressed to the quarter-finals.
At the end of the Pool matches, England, Afghanistan, Scotland, Ireland and Zimbabwe have been sent packing home.
All eight teams battling it out during the knockout stages are three wins away from winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
Images courtesy of ICC Cricket World Cup Official Facebook page
ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 quarter-finals: South Africa vs Sri Lanka (March 18), Bangladesh vs India (March 19), Australia vs Pakistan (March 20) and New Zealand vs West Indies (March 21).
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