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The real games begin now: Waqar

PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka: Pakistan have secured their place in the last-eight stage of the World Cup but their coach Waqar Younis declared on Monday that the real battle for his team will start now.

Waqar, the former Pakistan captain, told reporters after his team’s seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe that he was happy with the result but he was quick to add that the Green shirts will have to raise their game to shine in their future games including the eagerly-awaited clash against defending champions Australia on March 19.

“It’s pleasing that know that we have reached the knockout stage of the World Cup but I must say that the real games will start with the quarterfinals. We were always expected to reach the quarters with the sort of team we have and the boys will have to start playing even better,” said Waqar.

Waqar described the match against Australia as a perfect opportunity for Pakistan to boost their confidence and morale ahead of the last-eight round.

“It will be a very important game because if we beat the world champions it will give our confidence a big boost and give us the momentum we need going into the quarterfinals.”

Waqar was all praise for World Cup debutant Asad Shafiq, who played an unbeaten, match-winning knock of 78 off 97 balls against the Zimbabweans.

“We batted sensibly today. Asad made a big difference. He is a very compact player and I believe in the future he can be a very good cricketer for Pakistan and further strengthen our middle-order which already has Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.”

Alan Butcher, Waqar’s Zimbabwean counterpart, also hailed Asad for his ‘tidy’ knock.

“He (Asad) played a very sensible knock under the circumstances. He looked like a very tidy player.”

Elton Chigumbura, the Zimbabwe captain, rued the poor showing given by his batsmen during the entire tournament.

“I think we’ve bowled and fielded superbly but our batting has really flopped,” said Chigumbura, who turned 25 on Monday.