Pak 'thunder' past Zimbabwe
Pakistan sealed their place in the World Cup quarter-finals after sinking Zimbabwe by seven wickets in a rain-shortened match on Monday. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecardcricket Updated: Mar 15, 2011 02:22 IST
As the team buses entered the Pallekele International Stadium on Monday, Pakistan were looking forward to their batsmen getting their act together, bowlers not spraying it all over in the death overs and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal not having an off day.
Perhaps, Zimbabwe too were having similar feelings. They would be hoping their batsmen gave their bowlers a decent total to defend and skipper Elton Chigumbura coming good with the bat.
If all these concerns were not enough, they had to take the weather into account. With the Met department predicting a thunderstorm at some point during the day, considering their woeful run, neither team would have complained in case of an abandoned match. It would have sealed Pakistan's place in the quarterfinals and Zimbabwe would have been happy to have seen their points tally rise to three.
But it wasn't to be.
A thunderstorm hit Kandy, but it was not enough to deprive the locals their last piece of World Cup action. They hardly had anything to cheer about during the first half of play, as the Zimbabwe batsmen struggled to cope with the Pakistan attack.
But once the floodlights came on and the covers removed for the first time, the match - which was stalled with the Africans reeling on 96 for five in the 28th over - was reduced to 43 overs-a-side. It meant Zimbabwe had to press on the accelerator.
Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya succeeded in their endeavour for a while before another spell of showers ended Zimbabwe's innings, setting Pakistan a target of 162 off 38 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad maintained his consistency of getting out cheaply, but Mohd Hafeez and Asad Shafiq steered Pakistan to safety with an 82-run stand for the second wicket.
More than Shafiq's unbeaten 78, the match will be remembered for the efforts put in by the 200-odd groundsmen who worked tirelessly to ensure the match was not abandoned.