Pakistan progress with win over Zimbabwe

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The Independent Online

Pakistan secured their World Cup quarter-final berth today with a three-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in a rain-affected Group A clash at Kandy.

Two rain interruptions during Zimbabwe's batting meant Pakistan were chasing a revised target of 162 in 38 overs, and World Cup debutant Asad Shafiq's unbeaten 78 off 97 balls - backed by Mohammad Hafeez's 49 - helped see them through.

Earlier, Pakistan's Umar Gul picked up figures of three for 36 to help restrict Zimbabwe to 151 for the loss of seven wickets, with the Africans forced to rely on Craig Ervine's face-saving 52 off 82 balls.

Despite losing the toss, Pakistan enjoyed a very profitable mandatory powerplay from the first over, giving away just 35 runs and picking up three wickets.

First Abdul Razzaq dismissed dangerman Brendan Taylor for four, caught by under-fire wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, while Gul trapped Regis Chakabva (nought) lbw and Vusi Sibanda (five) to a brilliant diving catch by Misbah-ul-Haq at slip.

Wahab Riaz then had Tatenda Taibu caught by Shahid Afridi to strengthen Pakistan's position.

Ervine - who was dropped by Misbah when on 13 - helped stabilise Zimbabwe, but Greg Lamb fell caught behind to Afridi's googly for 16.

Following a nearly 100-minute rain delay, Ervine completed his half-century but a skidding delivery from Hafeez bowled the left-hander soon after.

Skipper Elton Chigumbura (32 not out) and Prosper Utseya (18) prevented a complete collapse for Zimbabwe, as the pair added 48 valuable runs to their team's cause before Utseya departed prior to the second bout of rain.

In response, Pakistan lost Ahmed Shehzad (eight) early on - stumped by Taibu off Ray Price - but Hafeez and Shafiq steadied things well and took the total to 57 in 15 overs.

The pair comfortably put on 82 for the second wicket before Hafeez fell, snared at slip off Utseya, while Price picked up his second scalp by bowling Afridi for three.

Taking a measured approach, Shafiq reached his 50 in 76 deliveries - he finished the game with seven boundaries to his name - and Younis Khan (13 not out) provided able support in tackling some tricky dew conditions as victory came with 23 balls to spare.