x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Expectations up for Pakistan ahead of West Indies quarter-final

World Cup news Shahid Afridi concedes that Pakistan are favourites to beat West Indies, while Mike Hussey says Australian team are behind captain Ricky Ponting.

DHAKA // Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, concedes that expectations on his squad have increased following last Saturday's win against Australia, but so has confidence within the team.

Pakistan finished top of Group A and face the West Indies in the World Cup quarter-finals tomorrow — a game Pakistan is expected to win.

"Yes, expectation is more now," Afridi said. "And we feel more confident now. That's a good sign to win a big game before the quarter-final and we all are very confident.

"We really worked hard before this World Cup. I think we never worked as hard in our career. We had very good [training] camp sessions, we've been taking our practice sessions very seriously."

Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, said Chris Gayle, Kemar Roach and Shivnarine Chanderpaul are all set to return to the side.

Gayle missed Sunday's match against India with an abdominal strain, while Roach has had a fever. Chanderpaul, the experienced middle-order batsman, was dropped for the losses to England and India in which West Indies' batting proved vulnerable.

Botha revels as South Africa embrace spin

Johan Botha is relishing his role in a South Africa team who have fielded the most effective attack at the World Cup after supplementing their potent pace attack with a trio of contrasting spinners.

The Proteas were the only side to bowl out each of their opponents in the group stages with the spinners grabbing key wickets ahead of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel — two of the best bowlers in one-day cricket.

Robin Peterson, the left-arm orthodox bowler, and Imran Tahir, the wrist spinner, have snared 26 wickets between them in the tournament so far. Botha, who has on occasion opened the bowling, is happy to keep one end tight.

"I think our three spinners are lot of different from each other and that has brought us a lot of wickets in the tournament," Botha said, describing his duties as the holding role. "Then we have world class seamers and I think they have done their job so far in the tournament. Now we do have a really good bowling attack."

Ponting has 100 per cent backing as Australian captain

Mike Hussey has jumped to the defence of Ricky Ponting, saying the under-fire Australian captain has the full backing of the squad and will silence his critics in their quarter-final match against India.

"Ricky has our 100 per cent support. He has been copping criticism for minor things,"Hussey said today, two days before their match against the pre-tournament favourites.

"Champions rise in big matches and we will see him at his best against India."