ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Group A, Colombo

Afridi demands improvement despite victory

Osman Samiuddin in Colombo

February 26, 2011

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Shahid Afridi wasn't an entirely happy man after orchestrating "a very big win" over Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa, a result likely to have significant repercussions on Group A as the tournament progresses.

Afridi was at the centre of the triumph, picking up four key wickets as Pakistan overcame a late implosion in the field to sneak out with an 11-run win. The haul included his 300th ODI wicket, the third Pakistani to do so and only the second player after Sanath Jayasuriya to complete 300 wickets and 4000 runs in the format. With nine wickets in two games, he is for now the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

But Pakistan's inability to finish off games over the last year has worried coach Waqar Younis and tonight's performance, deservedly triumphant ultimately, would not have eased those concerns. Sri Lanka lost their top order with less than 100 on the board, so by the 22nd over of the chase, the game seemed done.

Pakistan relaxed and proceeded to spill three catches, fluff two stumpings and miss a host of run-out attempts over the next 20 overs, allowing Chamara Silva, Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews to fight back. Amid the bedlam, they swiftly wasted two referrals and totted up 29 extras and though Afridi felt that "80%" of the task was done by then, he warned that improvement was needed.

Shahid Afridi bowled a match-winning spell, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup, Group A, Colombo, February 26, 2011
Shahid Afridi is now the tournament's leading wicket-taker with nine scalps in two games © AFP

"It's a very big win for us, beating Sri Lanka before a capacity crowd, their own people and a strong team which has been playing very well recently," Afridi said. "I think when we go ahead in this tournament our destination will get tougher and tougher and if we commit the same mistakes, then we will return to Pakistan very soon. We must improve. Our fielding has been improving since the New Zealand tour, but I don't know why in this match we dropped catches and failed to take run-out chances."

The win was built on the back of contributions from older players; fifties from Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan set up the total and two wickets from Shoaib Akhtar, as well as Afridi's haul, helped defend it. Given the blend of youth and experience in the squad, it was an important contribution. "I'm happy that seniors have taken responsibility," he said. "Younis and Misbah are the backbone of the team, and it's important that the captain performs well as it sets an example for others."

Pakistan have a couple of days off now before their next game against Canada on March 3, also at the R Premadasa. There are likely to be changes for that game, to rest some players, but also for strategic reasons. Pakistan took an unchanged line-up into today's game, which meant they were using just three specialist bowlers and again not fully exploiting Abdul Razzaq: he faced four balls at the death and bowled five tidy overs. Another specialist bowler is likely to be considered. Misbah also picked up a hamstring strain during his innings and though it is not thought to be serious just yet, it might impact on the line-up for the Canada game.

"I will sit down and plan, I will take advice from my coach and from my senior players as it is everyone's team," Afridi said. "Winning is very important for us, it is a good habit and we should try to win every match and play hard with our strength. I think we will give rest to some of our players but definitely we want to win each and every game."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 61 
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Posted by Salman on (March 1, 2011, 21:36 GMT)

very nice win cong8 pakistan..so happy to see the spirit of players and the their unity bless you alls..afridi has to open to make good advantage of ist 10 overs bcz openers can win u matches.and kamran has to improve his keeping...give a try to junaid instead of razzaq in coming canada match for a try ...he is an amazing bowler you all will love him bowling

Posted by Muhammad Arif on (February 28, 2011, 9:59 GMT)

@SimmiRidi just love your comments plz keep supporting pakistani team :) Team Pakistan just look for the mistakes done and try to avoid them in next matches. Team is looking like one unit and i am confident Pakistan will do wonders in this world cup.

Posted by Nataraj on (February 28, 2011, 6:20 GMT)

Misbah showing his meturity in batting and looks very consistant. Afridi must open the innings to take maximum advantage of 15 overs.

Posted by Mo on (February 27, 2011, 23:11 GMT)

A really moral boosting win for Pakistan, Winning against Sri lanka is a big achievemrnt taking into consideration that they are 1 of the favourites to win the WC, if not the favourite. In regards, Razzaq, he should definately be promoted up the order to unleash a few bang, bangs to keep the run rate up and put pressure on the opposition. I believe the game against Canada is a good time to try him at NO.3 maybe....

Posted by Kaustav on (February 27, 2011, 23:03 GMT)

@jog_goj- its other way round. Pak wil still finish 3rd or 4th in that group... :-D :-D

Posted by Rauf on (February 27, 2011, 22:28 GMT)

@street_smart: Indian juggernaut first need to be able to defend a total of 338 in it's own group before thinking about knocking out Pakistan in QF. India came just one run shy of losing the match against England even after scroing 338. Best batting + pathetic bowling and fielding means India needs to score 350+ runs in each game to have a chance of a win. Good luck :)

Posted by zain on (February 27, 2011, 20:14 GMT)

for all the indian ..atleast pakistan defended 277... they dint end up drawing a match with a total of 338 on the board!

Posted by SAAD on (February 27, 2011, 19:49 GMT)

i told u guys some daqys back that pakiastan can even surprise themselves

Posted by Powderdubdub on (February 27, 2011, 19:28 GMT)

Congratulations to Pakistan. They did manage to win despite so many mess ups in the field, I am sorry to say Kamran Akmal is a disgrace to wicket keeping profession. Afridi better take these weaknesses very seriously. winning or losing is part of the game but scrappy display is the real disgrace.

Posted by sri on (February 27, 2011, 13:34 GMT)

If pakistan bats first and scores 270-280 then they are favorites in anymatch. But wait , kamran akmal might help the opposition with his wicket keeping skills :)

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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