Pakistan storm into quarter-finals

Asad Shafiq shines as his team beats Zimbabwe with seven-wicket victory in World Cup match.

The rain interruptions made Zimbabwe’s task even more difficult in their match against Pakistan[AFP]

Asad Shafiq shone on his World Cup debut with a cultured unbeaten 78 on Monday as Pakistan stormed into the quarter-finals with a comprehensive seven-wicket victory against Zimbabwe in a rain-truncated match.

Taking full advantage of Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura’s dubious decision to bat first under an overcast sky, pace duo of Umar Gul (3-36) and Abdul Razzaq (1-24) rattled the Africans by reducing them to 13-3 inside six overs in the Group A match.

Zimbabwe could not really recover from there.

The subsequent rain interruptions made Zimbabwe’s task even more difficult and they were reeling at 151-7 in 39.4 overs when another rain delay dropped curtains on their innings, built largely around Craig Ervine’s gritty 52.

Pakistan were set a revised target of 162 off 38 overs under the Duckworth/Lewis method and Shafiq’s mature knock ensured the 1992 champions joined Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the knock out stages from this group.

Pakistan will also be happy with Kamran Akmal’s improved show behind the stumps and will hope the couple of catches he took would boost his confidence after his place looked in jeopardy following his disappointing performance against New Zealand.

Playing Shafiq as the replacement for the injured Umar Akmal also clicked as the 25-year-old right-hander responded with a responsible display.

“Shafiq played an amazing innings. We gave him a chance and he availed himself of it,” said Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.

But then there are a couple of other issues that did not pan out as Pakistan had planned.

Afridi promoted himself in the batting order hoping to wrap up the match early but he lasted just four balls.

“I tried to finish the game early but I could not. I’m sure I will perform with the bat. My team needs my batting contribution as well,” Afridi said.

Also, openers Mohammad Hafeez (49) and Ahmed Shehzad (8) once again failed to click as a pair even against a team with considerable bowling limitations.

Pakistan play Australia in their last Group A match on Saturday, while Zimbabwe sign off their group campaign against Kenya a day later.

Source: Reuters

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