Pakistan aim top spot in Group A with win over Aussies

Pallekele (Sri Lanka): Pakistan have eased into the quarter-finals of the cricket World Cup but the 1992 champons are keen to go into the knockout stage with victory over world champions Australia in their final league match.

Pakistan defeated Zimbabwe by seven wickets in a rain-curtailed match yesterday to secure the fourth and final quarter-final spot from Group A with eight points from five games.

A win over Australia on Saturday will perch them on the top of group A.

"We will definitely play well against Australia. It`s a match, which we`ll take very seriously. It would be another day and a new game. We know how important that match is and we hope to give our best," Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi said.

Asked whether pacer Umar Gul, who won the man-of-the-match award for his three for 34 runs spell, would continue to bowl with the new ball for the remainder of the tournament, Afridi said, "It depends on the opposition and conditions. Today (Monday) it was overcast and that`s why we opted to bowl him with the new ball. Maybe we`ll change the combination for the next game," he added.

Gul echoed similar sentiments to that of his captain and said they are ready to take on Australia in Colombo.

"We are looking forward to the big game against Australia and will do the homework for them," Gul said.

The paceman said he was happy to get back his rhythm.

"I`m back in my form and rhythm. I tried to bowl wicket to wicket. I looked at the pitch before the match, I was happy to bowl first. We are looking forward to the game against Australia," he said.

Although Gul has generally come in as first change for Pakistan in this competition, today he shared the new ball with Abdul Razzaq and troubled the Zimbabweans from the word go.

The loss meant Zimbabwe are out of the competition with one game left and captain Elton Chigumbura admitted his side did not have enough runs on the board to challenge Pakistan.

"We lacked runs. We lost too many wickets and when that happens, it`s hard to come back into the game. With the rain we lost momentum towards the end," he said.

"After this, we are going to work on our batting, especially in the first 10 overs. I thought Craig Ervine played pretty well. I`m happy with the bowling also, the spinners with old ball bowled good lines," he added.