Five-star Afridi shines in Pakistan victory
Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi took 5 for 23 to lead a sprited fightback, as his side outlasted Canada by 46 runs in a tempestuous Group A match in Colombo.
Pakistan had only managed to amass 184 in their innings after electing to bat first, losing their last five wickets for a dismal 19 runs.
“We will not repeat this kind of performance,” Afridi said. “Some of the shot selection was not very good and the coach and I will speak to the team.”
Veteran Younis Khan said the Canadians had bowled well, but Pakistan felt they always had enough runs.
“They bowled well at us, and the wicket was slow. We knew that if we bowled well in the first Powerplay we would do well. Shahid did very well for us. He is doing fantastically at the moment.”
On a slow wicket, Canada’s collection of medium pacers and slow bowlers stifled the strong Pakistani batting line-up, and it was only Umar Akmal (48) and Misbah ul-Haq (37) who made any real contribution to the total.
At one stage, the pair looked like they had built a platform for the likes of Afridi and Abdul Razzaq to finish the innings with a flourish.
Having added 73 for the fifth wicket, Akmal was trapped leg-before by Balaji Rao, who formed part off an impressive Canadian slow-bowling unit.
Rao, Rizwaan Cheema and Jimmy Hansra bagged two wickets apiece, while Harvir Baidwan had the best figures of three for 35 in eight overs. Pakistan just couldn’t get any momentum, and their innings came to a very sudden end.
After Akmal’s demise, Ul-Haq followed soon after, cleverly caught down the leg-side by keeper Ashish Bagai off the bowling of Rao.
Afridi had already struck few meaty blows, but he sliced a full toss to point, before a double Hansra strike in the 42nd over saw Pakistan crumble to 181 for nine.
Baidwan then returned to bowl last man Saeed Ajmal, and Pakistan were all out for 184.
Sensing a real chance to cause the latest upset, Canada started slowly. They then lost young openers Nitish Kumar and Ruvindu Gunasekera with the score on 16, and from there it was hard work -- especially against the guile of the red-hot Afridi.
After several close calls, Afridi had Bagai nabbed leg-before, to spark another golden night for the Pakistan captain.
Hansra and Zubin Surkari then added 60 to give Pakistan something to think about, but Ajmal struck a crucial blow when he had the latter trapped in front in the 34th over. 104 for four soon became 114 for seven, however, as Afridi ran riot.
He bowled the dangerous Hansra for 43, before doing the same to Cheema and Baidwan. When he had Tyson Gordon well caught by Wahab Riaz, the Pakistan talisman had a fifth haul of five-wickets in ODI cricket.
He even had time to run out Balaji Rao with a direct hit from short fine-leg, to cap a fine performance.
Riaz then bowled Henry Osinde, to complete a professional, if not precise, win for Pakistan.
Canadian skipper Bagai said it was very disappointing, after they had fought so well.
“Our batting worries continue. We let ourselves down again, after doing well with the ball. Our batting has been a worry for the last few weeks, and we might get a few new faces in there,” he lamented.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Misbah ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (c), Abdul Razzaq, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal.
Canada: N Kumar, R Gunasekera, Z Surkari, A Bagai (c), A Hansra, R Cheema, T Gordon, K Chohan, H Baidwan, H Osinde, W Balaji Rao.