Pak eyeing WC 2nd round after a hiatus of 12 years

Colombo: Pakistan will look to end a 12-year wait and seal a place in the knockout stage of the cricket World Cup when they take on minnows Canada in their group A match at R Premadasa stadium here on Thursday.

Following wins against Kenya and Sri Lanka, Pakistan are almost certain of qualifying for the quarter-finals if they win tomorrow`s match.

Pakistan`s last two campaigns had ended in disaster as the 1992 champions made a first round exit in 2003 in South Africa and four years later in the West Indies.

Coming into the mega-event in the backdrop of spot-fixing scandal, Pakistan have managed to maintain a clean slate so far but Canada have struggled in their two games so far.

Canada lost their first game to Sri Lanka by a massive 210 runs in Hambantota and then were beaten by Zimbabwe by 175 runs in Nagpur.

But Pakistan are in no mood to take the minnows lightly.

"Because of the importance of the tournament we are not going to take any team easy," Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said ahead of the game.

"We played well against Sri Lanka but tomorrow is another game and we need to carry on the momentum. It`s still early days in the tournament and bigger teams will come but we are not thinking far ahead," he added.

Coming into the tournament, Pakistan were not one of the fancied sides due to the spot fixing controversy and disputes over captaincy.

But Pakistan`s first two matches showed that they seem to have put everything behind as their focus has been on winning the competition.

Even Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, after his side`s 11-run defeat on Saturday, had called Pakistan a `dangerous side`.

Pakistan`s strength is its strong bowling attack and surprisingly skipper Shahid Afridi has been the most successful among the lot with nine wickets from the two games.

Ageing star Shoaib Akhtar has also provided breakthroughs when needed although Umar Gul is yet to fire and his place could be in danger as Pakistan have the option of playing Wahab Riaz.

The team management would also like to give Abdul Razzak a chance to bat up the order as he batted at number eight in the first two games despite being immensely talented.