Fates in balance in crunch Cup matches
New Zealand look set for a vital win over Zimbabwe Friday while Bangladesh take on the West Indies in key matches that could play pivotal roles in deciding the World Cup quarter-final line-up.
The Black Caps, needing a victory in Group A after a win against Kenya and defeat at the hands of defending champions Australia, restricted the African side to just 162 in Ahmedabad.
Seamer Tim Southee took three wickets while Kyle Mills and skipper Daniel Vettori grabbed two apiece for New Zealand, desperate to register their second win with powerful Pakistan and Sri Lanka lying in wait.
Brendan Taylor (44) top-scored for Zimbabwe, who recovered from 46 for five.
"It was nice to get a couple of wickets and make a contribution to the team," said Mills. "It's a big game for us, a must-win game and I think 162 is a target we should chase down.
"I was just trying to bowl as straight as I possibly could," he added.
In the tougher-looking Group B, a clutch of powerful sides are vying for the four quarter-final places, including South Africa and India with Ireland also in the equation after their shock win against England.
The West Indies, who have not played on Bangladeshi soil since 2002, suffered a 3-0 defeat by the Tigers at home two years ago when the top players went on strike due to a pay dispute.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan ruled out another easy win in the day-night match at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, which neither team can afford to lose after securing one win each from their first two Group B games.
"It definitely makes it wide open," Shakib said. "No team can afford to lose from here," he said.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said his team was not worried by either the lack of experience in Bangladeshi conditions or the partisan sell-out crowd of 25,000 that will back the hosts.
"When we play at home, we expect fans to support us, so of course the crowd will support Bangladesh," the West Indian captain said.
"This is a very important game because Bangladesh are a very competitive side and we have to take them very seriously. We will look to execute our plans well."
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi admitted that the 2007 World Cup disaster against Ireland weighed heavily on his mind when Canada gave his team a major fright, saying it served as a good wake-up call for his side.
Pakistan, bowled out for a paltry 184 on Thursday, were indebted to Afridi's one-man show, whose leg-breaks earned figures of 5-23 and helped his team avoid an upset.
In the end Pakistan pulled off a 46-run win, their third in as many matches to give the 1992 champions six points and top position in Group A, ahead of Sri Lanka and defending champions Australia, who meet on Saturday.
"Yes, that match in 2007 was on my mind," said Afridi, of Pakistan's infamous three-wicket defeat to Ireland in Jamaica which led to his team's first round exit from the last World Cup.
"I know what would have happened had we lost against Canada," said Afridi, of the possible backlash from the millions of fans back home.
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