Afridi makes 50th T20I all his own

The Pathan's all-round show helps Pakistan square series.

Afridi single-handedly took Pakistan to a series-leveling 23-run win over Sri Lanka on Sunday night.


Scorecard | Images

HAMBANTOTA:
Shahid Afridi was on a roll, rapping the batsmen repeatedly on the pads, letting his appeals assume the intonation of a persistent plea – the kind one associates with a jilted lover on bended knee.

Afridi was mixing it up, bowling with his back to the wall trying to restrict Sri Lanka to below 122 – a total that was build almost entirely around his first-innings half-century, scored amid yet another wrecked batting performance from Pakistan.

It was Sahibzada’s unbeaten 33-ball 52 that rescued Pakistan from 41-4 in the 11th over to relative respectability, as he combined with Shoaib Malik for 68 runs in an invaluable fifth-wicket stand, after Mohammad Hafiz chose to bat. Borne of his own effort, it was understandable that Afridi wasn’t willing to yield an inch when Sri Lanka began their chase in what was his 50th Twenty20 International game.

So there he was, wise with age but not subdued, turning his arm over to Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chamara Kapugadera, beating them, deceiving them, following up with questioning roars to the unmoved umpire. Sri Lanka were already two down, having lost Kumar Sangakkara to needless aggression and the inexplicably promoted Nuwan Kulasekara to, well, a rush of blood to the head, although the target still remained well within reach.

With his appeals falling on deaf ears there was possibly only one way to get through, and Afridi did just that. A faster one tied Dilshan up as he went for the cut, and rattled into the stumps. In his third over, the Pathan was slogged for six by Kapugedara, but on the very next ball – a forceful slider – the Lankan’s stumps lay in disarray.

Shahid Khan finished his quota of four with two scalps for 17, and at that stage the home team needed 48 to win off the last six overs with six wickets in hand – Pakistan’s regular inroads into Sri Lanka’s batting order had impeded the scoring to the point that drastic hitting out was now required were the home team to seal a series win.

But the pressure finally got too much even for a side that batted deep. Sohail Tanvir removed the dangerous Chandimal, and comeback man Mohammad Sami’s blinding pace skittled out the rest, as Pakistan tied the two-match series with a 23-run win. Afridi even had a hand in the last wicket to fall when he pouched Angelo Mathews, who was captaining his side, at long-off.

Earlier, all eyes were on Hafeez and the looming possibility of a fourth successive duck for the new skipper. Hafeez avoided that dishonor, went on to score 24 as Lanka’s seamers and spinners both tightened the net around Pakistan, also causing a steady trickle of dismissals. It was finally left to Afridi, who was dropped on 42 by Dilshan, to shore up his side and yank them up to 122 – which became the lowest total defended successfully by Pakistan in a Twenty20 game.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Delhi vs Kolkata

On Now: Delhi vs Kolkata

Pandey, Uthappa help Kolkata set Delhi a 167-run target. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as England coach

Moores gets second stint as England coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »