Afridi saves Pak blushes
Pakistan's bowling, led by captain Shahid Afridi, compensated for their weak batting display to inflict a 46-run defeat on lowly Canada in yesterday's World Cup match at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The win kept Pakistan at the top of Group A with three wins from as many matches.
After a sub-par batting performance saw them skittled out for 184, Pakistan's bowlers came out with a determined effort, and were ably supported in the field as Canada folded for 138. Shahid Afridi, who is in the middle of a purple patch with the ball that has seen him climb to the top of the wickets table with 14 wickets from three games, cut a swathe through Canada's middle and lower order to pick up five wickets for 23 runs. It was his second five-wicket haul of the 2011 World Cup, having taken five in Pakistan's opening game against Kenya.
Canada were in trouble from the start, slipping to 3 for 44 by the eighteenth over. Hopes were rekindled briefly as Zubin Surkari (27) and Jimmy Hansra (43) put on 60 runs for the fourth wicket, before the dismissal of Surkari precipitated a collapse engineered chiefly by the Pakistan captain. Canada's last seven wickets fell for 34 runs as Pakistan avoided an embarrassment at the hands of the Associate nation.
Earlier, Canada's part-time bowlers restricted Pakistan to a modest total to set up the chance for an unlikely victory.
Seamer Harvir Baidwan took three wickets, while Rizwan Cheema, Balaji Rao and Jimmy Hansra picked up two apiece after Pakistan chose to bat on a slow pitch under overcast skies.
Candian bowlers exploited the conditions well as Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals, with only Umar Akmal (48) and Misbahul-Haq (37) putting up a degree of resistance during their 73-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Baidwan finished with 3-35, Hansra (2-23) and Rao (2-50) as Pakistan lost their last five wickets for only 19 runs in five overs.
Openers Mohammad Hafeez (11) was trapped lbw by Henry Osinde in the fourth over before Baidwan dismissed Ahmed Shahzad (12) and Younis Khan (six) in the space of 13 runs.
Cheema, who took 2-33, made it 67 for four when he had Kamran Akmal (16) caught in the covers in the 16th over, leaving the task of building the innings to Misbah and Umar Akmal.
Rao broke the Misbah-Umar stand, when he trapped Umar lbw in the 35th over, leaving the task of building the innings to Misbah and Umar Akmal.
Rao broke the Misbah-Umar stand, when he trapped Umar lbw in the 35th over and three overs later had Misbah caught by wicket-keeper Ashish Bagai to leave Pakistan struggling at 165-6.
Umar hit four boundaries and a six during his 68-ball knock.
Hard-hitting batsmen Shahid Afridi (20) and Abdul Razzaq (eight) also fell cheaply.
Pakistan, who won their first two matches against Kenya and Sri Lanka, left out injured left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman and rested paceman Shoaib Akhtar to bring in off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and Wahab Riaz.
Canada were forced to leave out veteran opener John Davison after he suffered a leg injury.