Dec 12, 2013
Shahid Afridi followed his solid performance with the ball by a hallmark blitz of 39 runs from twenty balls to give Pakistan an emphatic three wicket win against Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 International in Dubai, on Wednesday.
Afridi came into the crease with Pakistan reeling at 96 for five, and fifty runs required of thirty five balls. He ended up scoring thirty nine of them, and while the spectators will remember his three gigantic sixes, Afridi’s timely singles formed a big chunk of his batting performance.
Ultimately, Pakistan crossed the finish line with five balls to spare, and three wickets remaining. Shahid Afridi, unlike himself, held his own while the rest of the batting was collapsing against Lasith Malinga (3 for 26 runs), who had the best international T20 outing in a year.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez, having won the toss, opted to bowl in the first Twenty20 against Sri Lanka. Acknowledging the fact that late evening dew may come into play, Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal said 150 would a good score. Nineteen-year-old left-armer Usman Khan made his international his debut for Pakistan, while Junaid Khan was left out of the XI.
Sri Lanka failed to get off to a strong start as they lost Tillakaratne Dilshan for just seven. Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Kumar Sangakkara gave some stability to the innings but the run-rate was far from what they would have desired. It was Mathews who scored at a brisk rate helping the visitors to their eventual score. Mathews though survived a close leg-before call early on as the replays indicated the ball could have gone on to hit the middle stump.
After the innings off-spinner Saeed Ajmal felt that it was a par score and his team can chase it down.
Before Afridi arrived, Pakistan’s slow innings had not seemed much different from Sri Lanka’s. Both sides largely progressed at around 6.5 runs an over, with several batsmen squandering starts. Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Hafeez put on 57 for the second wicket, but they both fell against the run of play. Sohaib Maqsood had also seemed promising in his 13.
Shahid Afridi’s thirteen runs off Thisara Perera’s 18th over is what secured the result for Pakistan. Malinga delivered another miserly over in between, but with six needed off the final over, Afridi slog swept Nuwan Kulasekara’s first ball over long-leg.
Pakistan 16 for 7 in 19.1 overs (Shahid Afridi 39 not out, Sharjeel Khan 34; Lasith Malinga 3 for 26) beat Sri Lanka 145 for 5 in 20 overs (Angelo Mathews 50, Lahiru Thirimanne 23; Saeed Ajmal 2 for 35, Sohail Tanvir 2 for 34) by 3 wickets (5 balls remaining).
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