ICC WT20: Pakistan Win Twenty20 Cricket World Cup
Pakistan 139-2 (Shahid Afridi 54no) beat
Sri Lanka 138-6 (Sangakkara 64no, Abdul Razzaq 3-20) by eight wickets
ICC World Twenty20 Final, Lord's
By John Pennington
Shahid Afridi blasted an unbeaten 54 to power Pakistan to a fairytale eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka to win the ICC World Twenty20 at Lord's.
Afridi took control of the match batting at number three, thumping two fours and two sixes to guide Pakistan to their victory target of 139 with eight balls to spare. Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara held the Sri Lankan innings together with a classy unbeaten 64 but even that wasn't enough to put a defendable total on the board.
Sangakkara, adept at finding the gaps and punishing the bad ball, was the only top order Sri Lankan batsmen to effectively combat the fired-up and aggressive Pakistan bowling attack.
Led by Abdul Razzaq, who picked up three for 20, they reduced Sri Lanka to 70 for six to seize early control of the match. Mohammad Amir had man of the tournament Tillakaratne Dilshan caught by Shahzaib Hasan for a duck, Jehan Mubarak also failed to score before he spooned another catch to Hasan as Razzaq struck for the first time.
Sanath Jayasuriya (17) hammered two fours and the first six of the day but he was soon out when he went for a booming drive, only to inside edge onto his pads, shortly before Mahela Jayawardene (1) guided Razzaq into the hands of Misbah-ul-Haq.
Chamara Silva's disappointing tournament ended when he pulled Umar Gul straight to Saeed Ajmal at midwicket for 14 and when Isuru Udana was bowled by Afridi for just one, Sri Lanka were in all sorts of trouble at 70 for six.
However, Sangakkara finally found a willing ally in Angelo Mathews, who finished unbeaten on 35 in 24 balls, sharing in an unbroken, vital stand of 68 with his captain, who scored seven fours in his 52-ball innings.
If any team could defend 138, it would be Sri Lanka, with their variety of unorthodox bowlers but they were put under early pressure by Kamran Akmal (37 in 28 balls) and Hasan (19 in 23), who raced to 48 in the eighth over before Akmal was stumped, charging down the track to Jayasuriya's first ball.
Hasan fell soon after when he lobbed a catch to Jayasuriya and with Muttiah Muralitharan in the wickets, Sri Lanka were back in the game.
Afridi and Shoaib Malik then combined to forge a match-winning partnership but as the runs came in more of a trickle than a flurry, thanks to some excellent bowling, the game was still in the balance.
The turning points came in the 14th over, when Afridi launched Muralitharan into the stands at long-on, then swept for four and when Sangakkara turned to Udana to bowl the 18th, Afridi took full advantage with another six, and 19 runs coming from that over in all meant that barring something extraordinary, Pakistan would be home.
Lasith Malinga tried to pull off some magic, but it wasn't to be, Afridi squirting a ball into the off side for the victory, which finally gave Pakistan cricket something to smile about and put the ghosts of Johannesburg 2007 to rest, when they missed out on victory by five runs to arch-rivals India.
The thoughts of Mohammad Aamer before Afridi took Muralitharan and Udana apart might have been interesting given that the 17-year-old's final over of the Sri Lanka innings disappeared for 17 and some felt that gave Sri Lanka the chance to win the game.
It did, but Pakistan had an in form Afridi to counter with while the ever-cool Malik was unbeaten on 24 from 22 balls, with just one four, when the winning run was hit.
© Cricket World 2009