Colombo - Skipper Shahid Afridi took five wickets to help Pakistan overcome a scare at the hands of Canada and clinch a hard-fought 46-run win in their World Cup Group A match at R. Premadasa stadium on Thursday.
Pakistan, bowled out for just 184 in 43 overs under overcast skies, hit back with the ball by dismissing Canada, who at one point were 104-3, for 138 in 42.5 overs, with Afridi finishing with 5-23 in his 10 overs.
Afridi now has 14 wickets in three wins in as many matches and is the leading wicket-taker in the World Cup as his side edged closer to the quarter-finals.
With Canada well placed after Jimmy Hansra (43) and Zubin Surkari (27) adding an invaluable 60 for the fourth wicket, Afridi returned for his second spell to take four wickets in 17 deliveries to seal the victory.
In his first spell of six overs he had dismissed Canada skipper Ashish Bagai (16).
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who took 1-31, dismissed Surkari to give Pakistan the first breakthrough before Afridi ran through the remaining batting.
Afridi, who recorded Pakistan's all time best World Cup figures of 5-16 against Kenya, bowled Rizwan Cheema (four) with the last ball of the 35th over, before bowling Hansra and Jimmy Baidwan off successive deliveries in the 37th.
The 31-year-old Pakistan skipper took 4-34 in Pakistan's 11-run win over Sri Lanka on Saturday.
His effort averted another upset in the tournament, just a day after Ireland chased down a mammoth 328-run target to shock England in Bangalore.
The win gives Pakistan six points after three matches, setting them atop of Group A with Sri Lanka and Australia behind.
Earlier, Canada bowled a disciplined line and length with Baidwan (3-35), Cheema (2-33), Hansra (2-23) and Balaji Rao (2-50) combining to bowl out Pakistan for a below-par score.
Umar Akmal (48) and Misbah-ul-Haq (37) added 73 for the fifth wicket to repair the Pakistan innings, but once both departed the 1992 champions lost their last five wickets for a mere 19 runs in five overs.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez (11) was trapped lbw by Henry Osinde in the fourth over before Baidwan dismissed Ahmed Shahzad (12) and Younis Khan (six) in the space of 13 runs.
Cheema made it 67 for four when he had Kamran Akmal (16) caught in the covers in the 16th over, leaving the task of building the innings to Misbah and Umar Akmal.
Rao broke the Misbah-Umar stand, when he trapped Umar lbw in the 35th over and three overs later had Misbah caught by wicket-keeper Bagai to leave Pakistan struggling at 165-6.
Umar hit four boundaries and a six during his 68-ball knock.
Afridi (20) and Abdul Razzaq (eight) also fell cheaply.