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Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Twenty20: Afridi Stars In Comprehensive Win

By on August 12, 2009

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Twenty 20: Shahid Afridi

Pakistan 172 for 5 (Afridi 50, Nazir 40) beat Sri Lanka 120 (Sangakkara 38, Ajmal 3-18, Naved 3-19) by 52 runs…

Pakistan will want to take the Premadasa Stadium with them wherever they go. After groping in the darkness for the better part of the tour, they finally unearthed gold when they landed here for the last two one-dayers and tonight they signed off in style with a comprehensive 52-run win in the one-off Twenty20. It was touted as the rematch after the World Twenty20 final in June but Sri Lanka failed to even the score. Their nemesis from Lord’s – Shahid Afridi – stood in their way again with 50, a tight spell and a run-out to boot.

Sri Lanka’s nemesis in the World Twenty20 final at Lord’s, Shahid Afridi, returned to haunt them yet again with an attacking half-century to guide Pakistan to a challenging total in the one-off Twenty20 in Colombo. After losing a wicket first ball, Imran Nazir stabilised things early on, Afridi and Umar Akmal helped Pakistan gain control in the middle overs and Abdul Razzaq’s late blitz pushed them to a challenging total.

Batting under lights at the Premadasa Stadium hampered the Sri Lankans in the one-dayers, when they struggled to cope with the movement. While Pakistan would have been expected to start their innings with a bit of caution, they went about slamming away from the start. That’s after Kamran Akmal played all around an inswinger from Nuwan Kulasekara and lost his stumps off the first ball of the match, the third such instance in this series. Kamran had only himself to blame, unlike the fifth ODI where the umpire was the culprit.

That didn’t deter Nazir and Shoaib Malik, who regularly went down the track as a tactic to smother the swing. Malik was particularly disdainful against Thilan Thushara, slapping and scooping him over his head to set the innings into overdrive and his partner carried on from where he left off in the ICL.

Just as the partnership gathered threatening proportions, Malik fell to a moment of indiscretion. Facing Lasith Malinga, he shuffled across his stumps, then exposed all three of them, swished at thin air and saw his off stump pushed back.

Nazir’s stint, although brief, was exciting and fortuitous. A mis-hit off Thushara ought to have been taken at mid-on by Malinga, who got underneath the ball but fluffed the catch. Malinga had another chance to send him back but the umpire failed to detect a thin edge amidst the din. The micro battle finally ended when Malinga, fittingly, took an easy catch at long-off to send him back for 40.

Afridi wasn’t very convincing at the start of his innings, slashing and swishing at deliveries far too early. He also survived a very confident shout for lbw off Murali, with the ball appearing to turn enough to clip the leg stump. As he got his eye in, though, the shots flew off his bat. He chipped down the track to Murali and carved them inside out over extra cover but the shot of the evening was a stylish one-legged whip off Malinga that just cleared the deep midwicket boundary.

Umar too carried on from where he left off in the one-dayers, using his feet to clear the infield. His stand with Afridi yielded 66 in a little more than seven overs but he fell off a tame top edge while attempting a cheeky paddle off Angelo Mathews.

Afridi fell shortly after getting to his third consecutive fifty in Twenty20s, failing to clear Kulasekara at long-off. Razzaq then finished the innings with a cameo and Pakistan gave themselves a good chance of rounding off the tour on a high.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

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