Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd T20, Hambantota June 3, 2012

All-round Shahid Afridi helps square series

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Pakistan 122 for 6 (Afridi 52*, Kulasekara 2-13) beat Sri Lanka 99 (Afridi 2-17) by 23 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Shahid Afridi rescued a limp Pakistan innings from despair and built his team a middling total with an aggressive half-century that was pragmatically constructed. He then proceeded to tenaciously defend his hard work, and by the time he was through with his spell, Sri Lanka had severely depleted resources to complete an arduous task. The upshot was that Pakistan left Hambantota with the series level at 1-1, and Afridi with his seventh Player-of-the-Match award, a Twenty20 record.

The second T20 played out in a manner remarkably similar to the first, two days ago, only with roles reversed. On Friday, Sri Lanka had chosen to bat and then collapsed, before a hard-hitting cameo lifted them. Today, it was Pakistan. On Friday, in pursuit of a modest total, Pakistan had been dismissed for less than 100. Today, it was Sri Lanka.

Pakistan's innings was a non-starter until half of it was over, with the Sri Lankan bowlers providing meagre opportunities to score while running through the top order. Nuwan Kulasekara bowled sharp inswingers and struck the first blow; Isuru Udana, playing for his country after nearly three years, started with a maiden; and the legspinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi had success in his first two overs. Sri Lanka, who had rested Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga, had Pakistan for the taking at 41 for 4 after 10.1 overs.

Afridi and Malik started the recovery by rotating strike frequently. When Afridi showed intent by driving the offspinner Sachithra Senanayake to the cover boundary twice, Malik began to play second fiddle, but that did not stop him from taking three consecutive fours off Lokuarachchi in the 15th over. Malik stepped out of his crease to loft the first ball to long-on and drive the second through extra cover. Predicting the bowler would flatten his trajectory, Malik stayed back, and pulled the short ball through midwicket.

Their partnership of 68 had a lot of urgent running between the wickets before Afridi began to shift through his gears. He whipped Thisara Perera to the cow-corner boundary, a stroke that had a resemblance to MS Dhoni's helicopter, and lofted inside out through cover. Afridi was dropped on 42 but Malik was not the very next ball. Afridi ended the 19th over with the innings' first six, a blow back over the bowler's - Perera - head. He had begun the over by hitting the ball straight as well, only that went for four. He got to his 50 off 30 balls and dragged Pakistan to 122.

Sri Lanka had reached 19 for 0 before Kumar Sangakkara slapped Yasir Arafat, who was playing his first international in two years, to cover point. Kulasekara walked in at No. 3, to the surprise and amusement of Tillakaratne Dilshan waiting in the middle, presumably to pinch-hit. He wasn't as good against the new ball as he was with it. All Kulasekara did was play three dots before giving Arafat a second wicket in the fourth over, which cost Pakistan only one run. The third over, from the nippy Sohail Tanvir, had cost only one as well.

Afridi made his entrance in the eighth over, with Sri Lanka 38 for 2, and what an entrance it was. He had two confident lbw appeals against Chamara Kapugedera and another thunderous shout against Dilshan turned down in his first four balls. All those deliveries were quicker ones going on with the arm. Dilshan tried to cut the fifth. He missed, and Afridi did not need the umpire this time.

He and Saeed Ajmal began to squeeze the batsmen; only 25 runs came in the five overs they bowled in tandem. In the last of those overs, the 12th, Kapugedera clubbed Afridi for six over long-on, relieving pressure for Sri Lanka. The next ball was a slider that slid between bat and pad and bowled him. Lahiru Thirimanne once again eased the pressure by taking 10 runs off Mohammad Hafeez's only over. Afridi heaped it back on by conceding only one run in his last over.

Sri Lanka now needed 48 off 36 balls and Afridi could do no more. Tanvir, however, all but shut them out of the game with another miserly over in which he dismissed Dinesh Chandimal. The asking rate was approaching 10 an over and the lower-order batsmen found Mohammad Sami's pace too quick to score off. Three perished while trying.

The game ended when Angelo Mathews, the youngest Sri Lankan captain since Arjuna Ranatunga, mis-hit the ball towards long-off in the final over. The fielder ran in from the boundary and tumbled forward to catch the ball and dismiss the hosts for 99. It was Afridi.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on June 6, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    Afridi always plays a crucial part in this pakistan line up.I'm looking forward to the test matches and ODI's.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on June 6, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    funny to see Pak fans talking about India in this thread. But it is a fact that Pak team at the bottom of the table in test and ODIs...and in t20 India do not have much matches as they have IPL.

  • pkcricfan101 on June 6, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    Boom Boom! What a show he put on. But what is hafeez doing if he is going to stay at the top of the order he needs to make some runs or else come down and play at no.5 or 6. Afridi should have been made captain he has the most experience in t20 cricket.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    lol @ the indians, they always manage to bring their stupid arguments in every pak thread. And btw Pakistan still has a better winning rate and we have more wins against you at home and away. Yes we haven't defeated you yet in the worldcup but you haven't beaten us in the champions trophy either.

  • Prem2248 on June 5, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    It appears that S'kara's,D'shan's days are over as front-line batters as their aging, lethargic,foot-work would make things difficult for the rest to follow and it is also an heinous crime to include henchmen in the National Side at a time one can find dozens of better batters of S'weera's elegance & quality. These SLan authorities are yet to learn the importance of employing batters of S'weera's skills as front-liners. Though he's been an outstanding batter since his age of 15 who never allowed his Test batting average to go below 40 mark, he's always been given a step motherly treatment by this long standing selectors. A thing which is very noticeable was his employment as a bowler in his debut and sent to bat at No 11,at a time he has been adjudged as the most outstanding Schoolboy Cricketer twice successively, and another occasion he was dropped for the SA Tour 2002, to make way for a henchmen though his Test Bat Ave, at the time was around 80.

  • g.narsimha on June 5, 2012, 10:25 GMT

    WIKYROYPAKLOVER - See during the entire last decade which team dominated thrashing in home & away ,gone are the days when in 80s-90 s u r team used to win matches against us every where, with those wins u r ahead in over all on which u people always whining ,now the senario changed , even our use less sachin, sahwaag &co thrashed u r great bowlers in u r place scoring tripple, dubble centuries , let the crecketing ties rusume we all see who stands where, we are hoping by the end of this year a series wil be played lets wait & see , congrats on a great win on a deplated sl, without its key players i think it was a good juncture on the part of the sl,

  • g.narsimha on June 5, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    IRFAANKHAAN- WE NEVER HOST CANADA , IRELAND every body including u r team is in q to play in india

  • Sharky.omarhenry on June 5, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    Wow, Shahid Afridi is definitely one of the best 20/20 all-rounders from what I have seen. And one of the most important and best 20/20 players on the planet. No wonder Pakistan have already a 20/20 World Cup Trophy in their Trophy case. Afridi can really entertain and he can play the other formats too. One of the Greats like Jayasuriya, Tendulkar & co.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    Pathetic display by the Sri Lankan batsman after a wonderful display of bowling to restrict Pakistan to a small total without Malinga.Dilshan & Sangakkara looked totally exhausted (thanks to the IPL) as shown through some indisciplined and ordinary batting.Why not get Chandimal to keep wickets and get Sanga to focus on his batting.The team looks competent but the seniors Mahela,Sanga & Dilshan should fire to help the Sri lankan cause as they did in the IPL to justify their places in the team.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    compare with Asian teams India has very big names.but in International level their batting is poor.we saw it last Asia cup and how they played in out of India.

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