THE REALITY CHECK - After an inspiring win over hosts Sri Lanka, Pakistan will take on the unfancied Canada in Colombo today. It was a good win for Shahid Afridi and his team. The win would have boosted the confidence of experienced players like Shoaib Akhtar, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. Canada might not pose any serious threat to the Pakistanis especially after their far-from-impressive show against Sri Lanka as well as Zimbabwe earlier in the tournament.
Yet Pakistan should go all out and give it their best shot. Abdur Rehman is out due to a muscle strain while Misbah-ul-Haq is also expected to be rested owing to his hamstring strain. There is also talk that Shoaib Akhtar could also be rested. Saeed Ajmal will come in for Abdur Rehman while Asad Shafiq and Wahab Riaz are likely to replace Misbah and Shoaib. Shahid Afridi has indicated that Pakistan will go all out despite a weak opposition.
He said, “Canada will not be taken lightly and whatever experimentation we do, we\'ll still go in with full strength.” Despite the win over Sri Lanka there are areas where Pakistan needs to improve on. There missed a string of run-out chances and allowed Sri Lanka to come close to overhauling a tricky target while Kamran Akmal also missed at least two stumping chances.
Pakistan’s fielding has been good for the last six months or so. However, they need to get it right in crunch situations. The top order needs to convert their good starts into big innings with Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shahzad and Kamran Akmal all due for big scores. Kamran needs to rethink his approach as he has got himself going in both games before throwing it away attempting reckless shots. Canada is a weak opposition and Pakistan team should aim at looping the slack areas.
Canada don’t have much of a chance against Pakistan and will take the game as a learning experience. They have some good batsmen in Rizwan Cheema and the ageing John Davison but against a dynamic bowling attack they are in for a real tough game.
Form Guide & Conditions - Pakistan and Canada have only faced each other once in an ODI when Pakistan beat the Canadians by eight wickets in the 1979 World Cup. Pakistan have been the to-notch team of this tournament with two wins out of the two. Another humid day is expected in Colombo while the pitch is once again expected to be the win the toss and bat first kind of thing.
Watch Out For - Rizwan Cheema is a compact sort of a batsman. He has got of to starts but hasn’t been able to convert them into something big. He can certainly play shots and can also be effective with his off spinners. Younis Khan has been delivering the goods for Pakistan consistently. He is the pivot around which the Pakistan batting revolves.
With scores of 50 and 72 Younis should now be aiming for a big hundred against Canada.
Who Wins - Pakistan shouldn’t have much of a problem in beating Canada. The momentum is with the greenshirts and they shouldn’t get the foot of the paddle and beat Canada convincingly.
Likely Playing Elevens
Canada: Davison, Kumar, Bagai (wk), Gunasekera, Hansra, Cheema, Surkari, Gordon, Chohan, Baidwan, Balaji Rao
Pakistan: Hafeez, Shahzad, K Akmal (wk), Younis, Misbah/Asad, U Akmal, Afridi, A Razzaq, Ajmal, Gul, Shoaib/Wahab.