Lift fielding: Afridi
Jubilant skipper Shahid Afridi hailed Pakistan's impressive World Cup win over one-day powerhouse Sri Lanka as a huge boost for his team but demanded an improvement in fielding standards.
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs on Saturday before a capacity 35,000-crowd in Colombo, with Afridi starring with figures of 4-34 to slow the home team's run chase at R. Premadasa stadium.
The win, after Pakistan scored 277 for seven, leaves them at the top of Group A after two victories, including their crushing opening win over Kenya, ahead of defending champions Australia.
"It's a very big win for us," said Afridi. "Beating Sri Lanka before a capacity crowd, and a strong team which has been playing well."
The skipper said the nature of the victory at the home of one of the top sides in one-day cricket, would help lift players for future games.
"I think this will raise the morale of the players. It should, and that will help us prepare in a better way for the future games," said Afridi, whose team next faces minnows Canada on March 3, also in Colombo.
Despite the win, Pakistan were poor in the field, with wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal spurning stumping chances and catches going to ground.
Kumar Sangakkara (49) and Chamara Silva (57) gave Pakistan a scare but Afridi's men held their nerve to complete their seventh win against Sri Lanka in all World Cups, maintaining their proud record of never having lost to their opponents at cricket's showpiece.
"I think when we go ahead in this tournament our destination will become tougher and tougher, and if we commit the same mistakes and field like that, then we have to return to Pakistan sooner rather than later," said Afridi.
"I think we must improve or else such fielding will not help our cause. Our fielding has been improving since the New Zealand tour, but I don't know why in this match we dropped catches and failed to get run out chances," he added.
Afridi said he was pleased at the responsible innings played by Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
"It's important that seniors have taken responsibility. Younis and Misbah are the backbone of the team," said Afridi of Misbah, who made an unbeaten 83, and Younis, who scored an attractive 72.
"It's also important that the captain performs well and sets an example for others."
Afridi passed the milestone of 300 wickets during the match, his 314th one-day international, saying it was "one of my goals.”
"Reaching 300 wickets is a big achievement. I have always wanted to get to that mark and always prefer my bowling over my batting," said Afridi, who became the 11th bowler and third Pakistani behind Wasim Akram (502) and Waqar Younis (416) to reach the mark.