NEW DELHI: Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi won the toss and decided to bat first against minnows Canada in the Group A World Cup match at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo on Thursday.
Pakistan, after posting wins against Kenya and Sri Lanka, will look to end a 12-year wait and seal a place in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
Pakistan are almost certain of qualifying for the quarterfinals if they beat Canada in Thursday’s match.
Pakistan’s last two campaigns had ended in disaster as the 1992 champions made a first round exit in 2003 in South Africa and four years later in the West Indies.
Coming into the mega-event in the backdrop of spot-fixing scandal, Pakistan have managed to maintain a clean slate so far but Canada have struggled in their two games so far.
Pakistan’s first two matches showed that they seem to have put everything behind as their focus has been on winning the competition.
Canada lost their first game to Sri Lanka by a massive 210 runs in Hambantota and then were beaten by Zimbabwe by 175 runs in Nagpur.
Pakistan’s strength is its strong bowling attack and surprisingly skipper Shahid Afridi has been the most successful among the lot with nine wickets from the two games.
Ageing star Shoaib Akhtar has also provided breakthroughs when needed although Umar Gul is yet to fire and his place could be in danger as Pakistan have the option of playing Wahab Riaz.
Pakistan’s batsmen, on other hand, have done a decent job with the middle-order, including experienced Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, clicking in the first two games.
Going by the form, Pakistan are unlikely to be troubled by Canada and the Associate side will have a chance to learn a thing or two from the 1992 champions.
Teams: Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (captain), Abdul Razzaq, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.
Canada: Nitish Kumar, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Zubin Surkari, Ashish Bagai (captain), Jimmy Hansra, Rizwan Cheema, Tyson Gordon, Khurram Chohan, Harvir Baidwan, Henry Osinde, Balaji Rao.
Umpires: Daryl Harper (Australia) and Nigel Llong (England). TV umpire: Tony Hill (England). Match referee: Chris Broad (England). (Agencies)