Sharjah: Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in a nail biting game by 26 runs. All rounder Shahid Afridi answered his critics by scoring 75 runs, taking 5 wickets & 1 catch.
Shahid Afridi celebrates his dismissal of Mahela Jayawardene © AFP
~ Pakistan Innings ~
It was all started at the crazy Sharjah Cricket Stadium which later on was honored by Guinness World Records for hosting the most no. of ODI’s (201) in cricket history.
For the second time, Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first. Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat opened the innings for conquering new targets.
Both played the 1st five overs nicely but then a lazy shot by Imran Farhat & a good catch by wicket keeper Kumar Sangakkara changed things for Pakistan.
Younis Khan came in to handle the situation with the burden of his experience. M. Hafeez who was looking settled at the crease caught out by Chandimal at the ball of Prasanna in 16th over. M. Hafeez scored 27 runs off 51 balls (3 FOURS).
It was 57/2 when Pakistani skipper came in but a loose shot by Younis Khan in the next over turned it into 62/3. Shoaib Malik who was making his comeback was trapped by Mendis in front of stumps. Next man was Umar Akmal who was on song in the 2nd ODI but failed here and also became victim of Mendis.
No one in the whole ground was believing this situation. Pakistan was down to 5 in 24 overs and the score was 72. BOOM BOOM Afridi came in to support his skipper, he was looking calm and quite.
For pressurizing the field, both batsmen took some close singles; in between all this one call went against them and that cost Pakistan the wicket of its skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
Wicket keeper Sarfraz Ahmed supported Afridi and stayed at the crease for 24 min. but that was too short. Pakistani fans were looking sad and Sri Lankan fans were singing and dancing.
The score of Pakistan was 120/7 in 34.2 overs. Saeed Ajmal then became the one whom Afridi was looking for. He played in gaps, gave strike back to Afridi and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Boom Boom stayed calm in the 3rd and last powerplay and planned for attacking in the last 10 overs of the game.
The day was for Afridi, he smashed two balls for FOUR & 1 for SIX in 43rd over. He skied one high up in the air but the fielder (Fernando) dropped it.
In the next over, he tried to play the full and wide delivery of Perera but couldn’t timed it well and got an outside edge which flew to Sangakkara’s right where he took another one-handed good catch.
Spectators enjoyed that knock of 75 (65 balls, 4 FOURS, 3 SIXES) from Afridi. He and Ajju created a partnership of 61 runs.
Pakistan lost its last two wickets for 19 vital runs. Saeed Amal and Umar Gul were the batsmen who got dismissed. Fernando bowled 3 maidens and took 3 wickets for 26 runs (10 overs), Mendis and Prasanna shared 2 wicket each, Malinga and Perera bagged 1, 1 wicket.
Pakistan scored 200/10 in 49.3 overs. Sri Lankan bowlers gave 10 extra-runs (lb 2, w 8). The target wasn’t difficult to chase but it became competitive because of the bowling attack of Pakistan.
Shahid Afridi drives during his half-century © AFP
~ Sri Lanka Innings ~
As usually Tharanga and Dilshan started things for Sri Lanka. Both went hard on the ball and Cheema was the one who suffered but also made a comeback by sending Tharanga back in pavilion.
There was a close chance for getting golden wicket of Sangakkara but the big gap between wicket keeper and 1st (only) slip turned it down. Aizaz was a bit disappointed because he was doing a lot of work.
At the score of 37, Sri Lanka lost its 2nd wicket in the form of their skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan who nicked one back to Sarfraz. Strangely Dilshan challenged the decision using his DRS right but in the end technology also proved him wrong, it was a clear nick & sound was there too.
Young Chandimal was the new batsman, he struggled at the crease for sometime and then he dragged one onto his stumps. Mohammad Hafeez was the bowler who was thrilled with the wicket.
This was the 3rd wicket which Sri Lanka lost in its chase. Most experienced batsman Mahela Jayawardene arrived at crease who in the last match reached a milestone (crossed 10,000 runs in ODI’s).
The real test for Pakistan started now as both batsmen stopped playing big shots and started relying on singles/doubles. Shahid Afridi who hurt his knee during chasing a ball struck by Chandimal came back on the field. Misbah-ul-Haq was going quickly through the overs of Malik & M. Hafeez.
Afridi was given ball in the 21st over, crowd was happy to see their favorite all-rounder back. But there was nothing going in favor of him or his team. Pakistani skipper tried his all options, he gave the ball to Ajmal, Malik, M. Hafeez, Afridi, Gul & Cheema but there was nothing then a disappointment.
Sri Lanka was cruising to the target, their fans were happy for this partnership. Pakistani fans who were shouting and praising their team in the start were now looking silent and upset.
At the end of 37th over, the score for Lanka was 149/3 & they were just 52 runs away from the victory.
Who was thinking that the main event is still to come, Afridi in the next over rattled the stumps of Sangakkara who was playing at 58 (103 balls, 6 FOURS).
May be that was the hope for which Pakistani players were looking for. A hint of light to dispel dark.
In the next over, Ajmal found the outside edge of Mathews’s blade which Sarfraz behind the stumps took beautifully. He was the 5th one to go down. Tension was rising in the dressing room of Sri Lanka.
After a couple of overs, Afridi managed to trap Mendis in front of stumps, this was the 2nd one for him. Crowd was shouting ‘Afridi – Afridi – Afridi’. This was something the world of cricket never observed before.
In his next over, Afridi grinned the hopes of Sri Lankans by taking another golden wicket, this time batsman was Jayawardene. Mohammad Hafeez was the fielder who took a beautiful catch. Mahela scored 55 runs off 87 balls (2 FOURS & 1 SIX).
On the very next ball, Afridi caught Prasanna on his own ball. It was incredibly done by B00m B00m. Score of Sri Lanka was 168/8 in 43.3 overs. 33 runs were required off 39 balls.
Ajmal in the next over sent Malinga back on a good lbw shout. Pakistan was just 1 wicket away from the victory and that was booked for Afridi by the ALMIGHTY (GOD). Perera gave up in front of Afridi and caught out. This completed 5 wicket haul for Afridi, fantastic win for Pakistan and fascinating match for the crowd.
Last 7 wickets of Sri Lanka fell for 19 runs. Shahid Afridi again toppled the table with 5 wickets, Aizaz Cheema & Saeed Ajmal shared 2 wicket each and Mohammad Hafeez took 1 wicket.
Sri Lanka scored 174 in 45.2 overs and lost their all wickets. Pakistani bowlers gave 10 extra-runs (lb 3, w 6, nb 1).
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene trot between the stumps © AFP
The difference was the Transformer – Afridi who transformed everything he touched into Gold. The thunder & lightning tonight struck Sharjah emphatically. He is definitely a match winner. World will remember this historic & crazy match played here in UAE.
The next and last ODI match will be played at Abu Dhabi on November 23, 2011 which will start at 15:00 (local) & 11:00 (GMT). Pakistan will have to win it to go one place up at no.5 in ICC ODI rankings and Sri Lanka will have to play for its pride.
Result: Pakistan won by 26 runs.
Man Of The Match: Shahid Khan Afridi (Pakistan).
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