All-round Afridi helps Pakistan level series
A spurred performance with the bat and ball from Shahid Afridi who played his 50th T20I, helped Pakistan win this one and draw the series 1-1 against Sri Lanka
The first game T20I between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was a battle at Hanbantota between just the bat as the bowlers from both the teams had bowled very well. Thisara Perera was the only batsman who looked in a different mood altogether as he went about striking at a rate of 200.
This time the venue was same and two key players in the name of Mahela Jayawardena and Lasith Malinga were rested. Chamara Kapugedara and Isuru Udana were their replacements. Angelo Mathews, the stand-in captain, lost the toss and Hafeez chose to bat first.
It proved to be a very dicey decision as the ball was doing a lot in the initial stages. The batsmen could not make any sort of runs and the run-rate was trudging along at a meager 3-3.50 runs an over. At the end of the Quick Start Overs, Pakistan were abysmal in their batting as just 18 runs were scored to go along with a two-wicket damage.
Then came probably what can be called the crucial moment of the game, where Sri Lanka had the chance to take the game in their stride, the dynamic Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik went about snitching a good partnership. Afridi was dropped later on but not before this pair put on a very healthy partnership of 68 runs.
Nuwan Kulasekara bowled splendidly and ended up as the biggest miser in terms of giving away runs and ended with Bowling Efficiency of 158 . He bowled in the death as well and ended up with stunning figures of 4-1-13-2. He was supported well by the captain Mathews and Isuru Udana did well in his mini comeback as well. For his 4th T2o fifty, Shahid Afridi also earned the Batting Momentum of 157 and Pakistan finished up with a decent score of 122.
The start was a bit tricky as for the first time in T20Is, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekaratne Dilshan opened for the first time. The plan did not go according to plan as Sanga departed in the second over to Arafat’s bowling. In what was a ceasefire decision, Nuwan Kulasekara was sent up to number 3 as the pinch hitter but that plan shot up on their backs as well. Dilshan for a change, was valuing the bowlers, the pitch and also due to lack of strike, was just tugging along but then came on the Pathan, Shahid Afridi and he castled the dangerous Dilshan.
Chandimal and Kapugedara got along together, knowing the fact that the mystique of Saeed Ajmal was yet to be unfolded. They could just put on 23 runs on the board but then the batting just crumbling. One by one, the batsmen gave their wickets away and to add to that, Afridi was bowling a gem of a spell and orchestrated well along with Arafat and Tanvir, who bowled well too.
From there on, the penultimate hope was Thisara Perera, but he was done in by pace for Mohammad Sami. The last ray of light, the stand-in captain for today, Angelo Mathews was facing the last over off Yasir Arafat but he failed to do any sort of damage as the asking was just too much, 26 runs off six deliveries. Fittingly, the man who sparkled today with an overall performance, Shahid Afridi, gloatingly finished off the proceedings with an outstanding catch in the deep on his 50th T20I, also the first player to ever do so.
The obvious Man of the Match award went to Shahid Afridi. On the Castrol Index, Pakistan with 67 points, thumped Sri Lanka with 46 points. Shahid Afridi also toppled over others easily on the Overall Castrol Performance charts with 73. Sohail Tanvir was named the Man of the Series.