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Pakistan look beyond semi-finals

Published: Friday, September 21, 2007, 2:24 [IST]
 
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Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said his team were looking beyond Saturday's semi-finals after they laboured to a four-wicket win over Bangladesh in their final World Twenty20 Super Eights match at Newlands Thursday.

"We had hiccups today," Malik admitted. "We are much focused to improve on this performance."

Pakistan's win ensured they finished top of Group F in the Super Eights stage with three wins in three matches.

They earned a semi-final at Newlands against the second team from Group E, one of South Africa, New Zealand or India, depending on the final Super Eights match between South Africa and India later Thursday.

But Malik said he wasn't concerned about who Pakistan play Saturday. "We have our sights set higher than the semi-finals," he said. "We are looking at winning the trophy."

Australia were the other semi-final qualifiers from the group after beating Sri Lanka by ten wickets in the first game of a double header at Newlands. Australia will have to travel to Durban for their semi-final.

Newcomer Zunaed Siddique made an aggressive half-century to play virtually a lone hand for Bangladesh after they were sent in to bat.

Opening batsman Siddique, who was named man of the match, blasted 71 off 49 balls but Bangladesh were bowled out for 140 in 19.4 overs.

Pakistan seemed set for an easy win but they suffered a middle order batting collapse.

Opening batsman Imran Nazir, who had earlier retired hurt before scoring, returned at the fall of the fifth wicket and hit 27 not out to guide Pakistan home with six balls to spare.

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said a dropped catch in the deep two balls after Nazir returned could have made the difference between winning and losing.

Siddique, 19, a tall left-hander, marked his international debut with a sparkling innings which included six fours and three sixes.

He said he was told to play his natural game. "I went out to play as I do in domestic cricket and not worry about the opposition," he said.

He showed a fearless approach at the crease. Even when three wickets fell in successive overs in mid-innings he slammed two successive sixes over mid-wicket off off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez.

But his penchant for the lofted stroke over midwicket caused his downfall when he was caught in the deep off Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik.

Nazir retired hurt before a run had been scored by Pakistan when he was hit in the abdomen by a ball from Mashrafe Mortaza.

But the hard-hitting Shahid Afridi, opening the batting for the first time in the tournament, added 59 in quick time with Mohammad Hafeez.

Afridi slammed 39 off 15 balls with five fours and two sixes, while Hafeez made a more sedate 23 off 21 deliveries.

Hafeez was caught in the deep of Syed Rasel and left-arm spinner Abdur Razzaq followed up with the wickets of Afridi and Younis Khan as Pakistan slipped to 69 for three.

There was another slump when three more wickets fell while the score rose from 102 to 119.

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