Monday, November 22, 2010

Pakistan crush hapless China to qualify for semis

* Khalid Latif hammers first century of the event

By Muhammad Ali

GUANGZHOU: Skipper Khalid Latif hammered a dazzling century with the help of 8 boundaries and 5 sixes as Pakistan routed minnows China by a huge margin of 128 runs in the quarterfinals of the Asian Games Twenty20 Cricket Tournament at Guanggong Cricket Stadium here on Monday. With this victory, Pakistan qualified for the last four stage. Khalid’s knock was the first century of the Twenty20 event. Chasing a formidable winning target of 184, China could manage only 55 for the loss of 9 wickets in the allotted 20 overs. Jian Li was the highest scorer with 14. Raza Hassan took 3-10 while Aizaz Cheema finished with figures of 3-15 for Pakistan.

Earlier, the Pakistan batsmen put the Chinese bowling attack to the sword. The Chinese bowlers could not withstand the wrath of Khalid who thrashed them at will. Khalid made 103 off 69 balls while Sharjeel Khan scored 46 off 32 balls. Sharjeel’s knock included 4 fours and 3 sixes. The other scorer was Muhammad Ghumman with 23 not out.

“I think more tough matches are ahead of us but today we got a fair idea of the wicket,” Latif told reporters. “Our real test in the competition starts now.” Pakistan were one of the four teams seeded directly into the quarterfinals. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the other three. Pakistan are likely to take on Afghanistan in the semifinals on Thursday at the same venue.

“What we really need is time to get better in this game,” China captain Wang Lei said. “Pakistan are a champion team and we got a chance to learn how to bowl, bat and field from them.” Last week, Pakistan’s women’s team won the first ever cricket gold medal awarded in the Asian Games, defeating Bangladesh in the final. Japan took bronze with a win over China.

Despite a second-string cricket squad, Pakistan are favourites with India deciding not to send a team. India’s decision to stay away and the absence of the region’s top players has robbed cricket of its star value as it is being played for the first time at the Asian Games. Cricket, a non-Olympic sport, was confirmed for Guangzhou three years ago following the seemingly enthusiastic support from the continent’s big four – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The decision by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was a disappointment for cricket lovers and a setback in the sport’s bid to spread its international reach via multi-sports events.

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