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ICC World T20 2009 Review - Afridi Inspires Pakistan

ICC World T20 2009 Review - Afridi Inspires Pakistan
ICC World T20 2009 Review - Afridi Inspires Pakistan
©REUTERS / Action Images

After the success of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 2007 hosted by South Africa, it was once again time for the world to be treated to big hitting and skilful bowling as England played host to the second ICC World Twenty20 in 2009.

Nine of the Test-playing nations were joined in the competition by three qualifiers, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands. The omission of the tenth Test-playing nation, Zimbabwe, was related to political controversies surrounding the leader Robert Mugabe.

The opening game of the tournament saw hosts England take on qualifiers The Netherlands at Lord's, the home of cricket. A shock result followed as The Netherlands won by four wickets after an outstanding 49 from 30 deliveries by Tom de Grooth. Earlier in the match Luke Wright had set the tournament ablaze with a stunning 71 from 49 but his lack of support from the rest of the batting line-up meant that England slumped to a defeat.

The upsets were to continue in the initial group stages as Australia and Bangledesh were both eliminated without reaching the Super Eight stage of the tournament. Australia came unstuck in a tough group, losing heavily to both the West Indies and Sri Lanka, while Bangladesh’s defeat to Ireland saw the Irish progress in their place. The Super 8 stage saw the exit of hosts England, while South Africa, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan progressed.

South Africa and Sri Lanka were both hot favourites going into the semi-final stages having both been unbeaten throughout this tournament. South Africa's star man so far had been the young AB de Villiers who had already posted two half-centuries. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's one to watch was the ever dependable Mahala Jaywardene; he was in fine form against both Ireland and New Zealand.

The semi-finals were rather contrasting affairs: South Africa versus Pakistan was an extremely close fight coming right down to the wire with Pakistan prevailing by just six runs. Shahid Afridi was the star man for Pakistan with both the bat and ball. He blasted 51 off 34 balls and followed this up by removing South African batsmen Herschelle Gibbs and de Villiers in his first two overs finishing with figures of 2-16.

South Africa were given hope during their innings as Jacques Kallis spearheaded the run chase with 64 off 54 balls but Afridi's bowling really did change the course of the game as South Africa looked to attack what looked like a mediocre total of 149 for Pakistan. Kallis was given very little support from his teammates and South Africa fell just short of the required total.

The second semi-final, Sri Lanka versus the West Indies, was a more one-sided affair. Sri Lanka progressed to the final by a margin of 57 runs. Tillakaratne Dilshan top scored with a stunning 96 off 57 balls as Sri Lanka posted a score of 158. Dilshan was in electric form hitting boundaries to all areas of the ground including some wonder shots over the wicket-keeper as 'the Dilscoop' was born.

Chris Gayle attempted to lead a West Indies fight back with an entertaining 63 from 50 balls including eight fours and two sixes but the next top scorer in the West Indies team was nine with three of the top four getting ducks. The poor West Indies batting performance was in part due to the bowling of Angelo Mathews who, in a dramatic over, bowled three of the top four batsmen.
The final was therefore contested between two of Asia's finest cricketing nations, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka. This time Sri-Lanka's batting stars were thwarted by some fine Pakistani bowling, especially Abdul Razzaq who finished with figures of 3-20.

Apart from a Mathews cameo at the end of the innings Sri-Lanka's top scorer, Kumar Sangakarra, found little support from the other batsmen as Sri Lanka limped to a sub-par total of 138. The day did not start well for the Sri Lankan team when the tournament’s top scorer, Dilshan, was dismissed without troubling the scorers leaving Sri-Lanka 0-1.

Wicket number two followed swiftly as Mubarak also fell for nought leaving the score at 2-2. Sangakarra steadied the ship but regular wickets meant that the innings never really got going. The victory for Pakistan never really seemed in doubt as they scored consistently keeping wickets in hand. The opening partnership was arguably a match-winning one; combining for 48 before Kamran Akmal was stumped coming down the pitch to Sanath Jayasuriya.

A Pakistan collapse did not materialise, boundaries continued to flow and when Afridi starting smashing boundaries left, right and centre the game was clearly sealed. Pakistan were victorious by eight wickets and captain Younus Khan dedicated the victory to the people back in Pakistan stating that it will have an impact on the lives of people back home, describing how it was particularly special as they had come so close to victory in the previous tournament.

John Pryor

© Cricket World 2012

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