Pakistan look to get over Akmal brothers saga, eye QF berth

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2011, 15:14 PM IST

Pallekele: The drama surrounding the Akmal brothers becoming an unwanted off-field distraction, Pakistan would look to focus back on cricket and secure a quarterfinal berth when they take on minnows Zimbabwe in a Group A match here on Monday.

Pakistan’s unbeaten run in this edition of the mega-event was halted when New Zealand handed them a 110-run thrashing and adding to that was the woeful form of wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.

The butter-finger keeper has been a major letdown with captain Shahid Afridi admitting that the side is suffering because of Akmal but what left everyone baffled is the team management’s persistent backing for the fumbling stumper.

A possible replacement behind the stumps could have been Kamran’s own brother Umar but he too has, interestingly, injured himself in the practice session. It is notable that Umar had been accused of feigning injury for the sake of his brother in the past as well.

The off-field drama is, however, not much of a concern for Afridi, who said the team is capable of handling the situation and coming good on the field.

“We want to put everything behind us, the defeat and any other thing which could hurt our preparation. We are in a positive frame of mind and will play for a win,” said Afridi.

The skipper was also confident about Umar, who hurt his right index finger while fielding during practice on Thursday, recovering in time for Monday’s match.

“Umar is OK. As far as Kamran is concerned he has realised his mistakes and we have given him full confidence and at this moment he is our best option,” he said.

Pakistan are third in the points table behind Sri Lanka and New Zealand with six points.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in their last game on Thursday.

The African nation, who have won just one of their four World Cup games, still have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals provided they win their next two matches and Pakistan lose both their remaining group games.

“We’ll believe that if we can play our best cricket then we can proceed but we must not repeat the mistakes of our last two matches,” Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura, who will celebrate his 25th birthday on Monday, said.

“With Afridi we have to make sure we look to play him straight. We have noticed that he’s had plenty of dismissals either bowled or lbw so we must make sure we don’t look to go across the line too much,” he added.

There have been four World Cup matches between Pakistan and Bangladesh prior to Monday’s game with Pakistan winning three of those games. One match ended in no result.

Teams (from):

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (Captain), Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal (Wicketkeeper), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal and Wahab Riaz.

Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (Captain), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Terry Duffin, Craig Ervine, Greg Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Tinashe Panyangara, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (Wicketkeeper), Brendan Taylor and Prosper Utseya.

Umpires: Tony Hill (NZ) and Nigel Llong (Eng)

Third Umpire: Marais Erasmus (SA)

Match Referee: Chris Broad (Eng)

Match starts: 1430 hrs (IST).

PTI