Pakistan 146-7 (Afridi 39no) beat
Sri Lanka 145-5 (Mathews 50) by 3 wickets
First Twenty20 International, Dubai
A magnificent maximum from Shahid Afridi gave Pakistan a last-over victory in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals against Sri Lanka. They had looked to be forging a relatively easy path to victory at 69 for one in the 11th over in pursuit of Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews-inspired total of 145 for five. However, Lasith Malinga (4-0-26-3) led the fightback as wickets tumbled to leave 50 runs needed off the final 35 balls.
Afridi and Sohaib Maqsood inched them nearer to the winning line, but Maqsood gave Malinga a third wicket to leave 29 needed off 23 balls. Bilawal Bhatti then joined Afridi, but he too would depart before the end to leave Afridi as the star. He ended on 39 off 20 balls, having struck three sixes.
Pakistan’s run chase had suffered an early setback as they lost Ahmed Shehzad (4) to Sachithra Senanayake with just 12 on the board. Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Hafeez, though, put on 57 for the second-wicket. It was following Sharjeel’s dismissal at the hands of Thisara Perera for 34 that the drama began.
Hafeez was trapped in front for 32 by Ajantha Mendis (4-0-29-1), with Umar Akmal then run-out the very next ball as Mendis got a hand on a drive from Maqsood and deflected it onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Umar Amin then gave Malinga his first wicket, with Maqsood and Bhatti following before Afridi smote the winning blow.
Sri Lanka had earlier been rescued from mediocrity by Angelo Mathews after being asked to bat. They slipped steadily to 84 for four in the 14th over as Saeed Ajmal (4-0-35-2), Afridi (4-0-20-1) and Sohail Tanvir (4-0-34-2) all struck and Mohammad Hafeez delivered his usual batch of four tidy overs for 24 runs. Debutant Usman Shinwari, meanwhile, was given just the solitary over, conceding nine runs.
Mathews ensured that 58 runs would come off the 34 balls following Kumar Sangakkara’s departure for 21. He hit six boundaries en route to 50 off 34 balls and was given adequate support by Lahiru Thirmanne, who ended up unbeaten on 23 off 16 balls.
Kushal Perera (15 off 16 balls) and Dinesh Chandimal (22 off 22 balls) had looked to be laying a solid platform for Sri Lanka with a second-wicket partnership worth 32, but Chandimal was dismissed by man of the match Afridi.
The second and final match in the series is in Dubai on Friday.
© Cricket World 2013