Pakistan sweating over Afridi

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iol spt mar7 Afridi1

Reuters

Defending champions Pakistan is hoping big-hitting allrounder Shahid Afridi will be fit in time to play in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka. Photo by: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

Mirpur, Bangladesh – Defending champions Pakistan is hoping big-hitting allrounder Shahid Afridi will be fit in time to play in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Afridi, who helped pull off two dramatic last-over wins with an 18-ball 34 against India and a 25-ball 59 against Bangladesh, has a hip strain that caused him to miss training on Friday.

“He has responded well to the treatment,” Pakistan manager Zakir Khan said. “We're all analyzing and assessing the situation and will take a decision before the start of the match.”

Though the fitness of batsmen Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan and pace bowler Umar Gul also needed to be ascertained after niggles, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said he was not bothered about the injuries.

“Considering the scenario, we're prepared to face any situation, and have our plans ready for the final,” Misbah said. “The morale of the team is high with the way we have won the last two matches. We hope to continue playing positive and good cricket. If you play good cricket, results go your way.”

Misbah, though, hoped Afridi, who is also one of the main bowlers with his legspin, will take the field against the four-time champion.

“At the moment, he's really playing well. The kind of impact he's having on the opposition and his own team, he should play,” Misbah said. “It's really good to win from these crunch situations. It'll really help us in the future.”

But the captain conceded that Sri Lanka, which started with a 12-run win over Pakistan and remained undefeated in the round robin, would not be easy to beat with the likes of pace bowler Lasith Malinga, experienced batsman Kumar Sangakkara and spin bowler Ajantha Mendis all proven match-winners.

Mendis has a tournament-leading nine wickets at an average of 14, Malinga took 5-52 against Pakistan, and Sangakkara has a tournament-high 248 runs with a best of 103 against India and half-centuries against Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Sri Lanka are tough, especially in the final, because they do their basics right and always fight,” he said. “We really have to play good cricket.

“You have plans against the main players and others who are contributing for the team. It depends on the day, how you execute those plans.”

Misbah said he was unable to predict the nature of the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium pitch as it looked good for a 300-plus score on one day and not even good for 200 on another.

Squads:

Pakistan: Fawad Alam, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Mohammad Talha, Saeed Ajmal, Anwar Ali, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Sharjeel Khan.

Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Ashan Priyanjan, Angelo Mathews (captain), Chaturanga de Silva, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachitra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad. – Sapa-AP


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