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Afridi power steers Pakistan to win against Canada

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shahid Afridi made up for Pakistan's ragged performance with the bat by collecting his second five-wicket haul of the World Cup as the 1992 champions beat Canada by 46 runs on Thursday.

Canada looked as if they could produce the second shock of the tournament when they skittled Pakistan for 184 in just 43 overs and followed it up with some sensible batting from Zubin Surkari (27) and Jimmy Hansra to reach 104 for three.

But once leg-spinner Afridi (5-23) bowled Hansra for 43, the Canadians lost their way and were all out for 138, handing Pakistan their third successive win in Group A.

Afridi, who took five for 16 against Kenya last week, now tops the wicket-takers list with 14 scalps from three matches.

His stunning performance saved Pakistan's blushes on Thursday as the Canadians were well ahead of the required run rate and had seven wickets in hand at the start of the 34th over.

However, once Saeed Ajmal trapped Surkari lbw, the Canadian challenge quickly folded as Afridi ran riot bowling his leg-spin at a faster pace which completely bamboozled the North American batsmen.

They lost their last seven wickets for 34 runs.

Despite the win, Pakistan skipper Afridi admitted his team cannot repeat such a scrappy display with the bat if they are to win a second title.

"We did not have good shot selection and I think it's a very good wake-up call for us for the next game," said man-of-the-match Afridi.

"Myself and coach Waqar Younis will definitely talk to the boys and this will not happen again.

"We needed some partnerships and that's what we were missing and that's what the coach was saying. Partnerships are very important."

VERY DISAPPOINTING

Canadian captain Ashish Bagai was left to rue a missed opportunity.

"Very, very disappointing loss for us," Bagai said.

"Fighting is one thing but getting it over that line is obviously taking it to another level.

"We had a good chance today to show to everybody what we have put in over the last two years and we fell short."

Winning the toss and taking first use of the pitch, Pakistan could not get their batting rhythm going and lost wickets at regular intervals.

They slumped to 67-4 before Misbah-ul-Haq (37) and top scorer Umar Akmal (48) posted the best partnership of the innings with 73 for the fifth wicket.

Once the stand was broken at 140, the rest of the Pakistan batting collapsed with the last five wickets tumbling for 19 runs unable to cope with the medium-pace and spin combination of Canada who had heavily lost their first two matches to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Canada lost their paceman Khurram Chohan, who failed to complete his fourth over, but he was not missed as the rest of his team mates bowled a tight line and length.

Medium-pacer Harvir Baidwan was the pick of the attack with three for 35 while Rizwan Cheema, Balaji Rao and Hansra shared six wickets among them.

But despite restricting Pakistan to such a low total in a tournament where most of the title challengers are posting 300 plus scores, the Canadians were unable to pull off the upset.

Ireland beat England in Group B on Wednesday to create the first upset of this year's event.

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