Canada Vs Pakistan
Starting time: 2:30 IST
Colombo, March 3: This could very well be the mismatch of the tournament: Pakistan riding high from two consecutive victories to take on lowly Canada who have lost both their matches so far, and that too by margins of over 175 runs!
After their victory against Sri Lanka on Saturday, Pakistan has suddenly emerged as possible favourites to win the tournament, while the grim reality for Canada is that they are struggling to put runs on the board. Indeed, in their two matches - against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe - Canada have scored paltry totals of 122 and 123, respectively.
The glaring slew of weaknesses for Canada has exposed the team for what it is - a bunch of amateurs grappling with the reality that they are in a tournament rife with highly professional units. When the top four batsman in their line-up collectively aggregate 41 runs from 2 matches, you know that the team is well out of their league.
So, the question come Thursday's afternoon game is not whether Pakistan will beat Canada, as the answer to that is a forgone conclusion. But rather, just how long will it take for Pakistan to destroy Canada and claim victory? If Canada bats first, we are in for a very short game, whereas if the match opens with Pakistan's innings, it could take considerably longer. This is Pakistan's one-stop shop for compiling as many batting records as their appetites allow and time facilitates!
Middle order Pakistan batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have been in devastating form, with averages of 148 and 61 so far in the tournament, while Umar comes in next at 40. So, they will undoubtedly have the Canadian bowlers sweating. Meanwhile, bowling destroyer-in-chief Shahid Afridi, who has taken 9 wickets from the two matches in the World Cup so far, with a staggering average of 5.55, will be licking his lips as he aims to peg back as many Mapleleaf wickets as possible.
Canada's only real hope lies on the shoulders of a certain Rizwan Cheema. He has been the most impressive batsman so far for the side, with an average of over 25 and a 93 from 70 balls against England in a closely-fought warm-up game versus England. Seamer Harvir Baidwan has been Canada's most successful bowler with 4 wickets at an average of 26.50 in the tournament. So, Canada will have a task to stave of defeat for as long as possible and launch their first real fight of the tournament.