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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Afridi rescues Pak from the brink against Canada

Afridi rescues Pak from the brink against Canada

Last updated on: March 03, 2011 22:05 IST

- Scorecard

Shahid Afridi struck with the ball once again to help Pakistan score what was eventually a comprehensive win over Canada in the World Cup match at the Premadasa stadium on Thursday.

Chasing a modest 185 to win, Canada could muster only 138 giving their rivals a 46-run win.

The Pakistani captain hasn't contributed with the bat as much as is expected from him in this tournament. However, as a bowler, he has more than made up for his batting blemishes.

Shahid AfridiHis five for 23 on Thursday follows an equally impressive five for 16 against Zimbabwe and his four for 34 against Sri Lanka on this venue.

Afridi's fifth fiver in ODIs took his wickets tally in the tournament to 14 -- the highest in the tournament thus far.

- World Cup coverage

His effort helped Pakistan to their third straight win in this edition and second in two meetings over Canada.

It was also the former champions 10th win in 17 matches -- against six defeats -- at the Premadasa, while the result also helped bolster the overall record of the teams batting first at the venue -- in 75 day/night games played at the venue, the team batting first has won a whopping 46 and the team batting second only half the number.

Coming to the match per se, a day after Ireland had upset England, another minnow, Canada, gave a good account of themselves, at least for two-thirds of the match.

Only their batsmen could not complete the work that their bowlers had so convincingly done.

The end result was a third successive loss in the tournament.

The Canadian innings began on a disastrous note, with both the openers -- Ruvindu Gunasekara (8) and Nitish Kumar (2) going back to the pavilion inside the first five overs.

Captain Ashish Bagai (16) frustrated the Pakistani bowlers by sticking at the wicket for a few overs before his opposite number trapped him leg before. However, even he couldn't propel his side's poor scoring rate.

If the Pakistani innings was slow, that of the Canadians was slower. Only 25 runs were scored in the first 10 overs and the total was just 50 after 20 overs.

In fact the Canadian scoring rate was well under three-runs-per-over till the 29th over.

However, it was a 60-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Jimmy Hansra (43) and Zubin Surkari (27) that gave them hope.

The duo did not play many big shots but managed to keep the scoreboard ticking. That ensured the pressure was back on Pakistan.

Adding to the former champions' woes was the fact that their captain, Shahid Afridi, refused to set an aggressive field, especially when his team was desperately seeking wickets.

The Canadian resistance only added to the Pakistani frustration.

However, just when things seemed to be going out of their hands, Saeed Ajmal provided them the breakthrough they so desperately needed.

The spinner dismissed Surkari leg before, courtesy a referral and things suddenly seemed bright for Pakistan.

Afridi came back to rattle Rizwan Cheema's (4) stumps before dishing out a similar treatment to the dangerous Hansra. A ball later, Harvir Baidwan (0) witnessed the ball crash onto his stumps.

Wahab Riaz ensured his captain a fiver by taking a spectacular catch running in from the deep to account for Tyson Gordon (9).

And thereafter the end was just a matter of time. The Canadian team could last only for 42.5 overs.

Earlier, the Canadian bowlers bowled a tight line and took wickets at regular intervals to restrict the former champions to 184.

Making matters worse was the fact that the Pakistani team, which was so impressive in its opening matches, fell seven overs short of batting out their full quota of overs.

On a wicket where it is difficult to score runs, it is tough to stay at this stage if Canada will replicate Ireland's feat.

Having said that, even if they go on to lose, the Canadian team should be proud of their performance.

Besides Umar Akmal (48) and Misbah-ul-Haq (37) none of the batsmen looked to be in control of their game as the Pakistan team suffered a batting collapse, rather a catastrophe.

The duo put on 73 runs -- in 117 balls -- for the fifth wicket to do the repair work in the middle of the innings after Pakistan had been reduced to 67 for four by the 16th over.

However, after their departure, in quick succession, the Pakistan tail failed to wag as well.

Three wickets went down in the space of five balls, with the score static at 181. And just three runs were added to the total thereafter.

Harvir Baidwar was the pick of the Canadian bowlers, with figures of three for 35. Balaji Rao, Jimmy Hansra and Rizwan Cheema chipped in with two wickets.

However, it is their batting that failed them. Yet again!

Bikash Mohapatra Colombo