|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
At Lord's, June 21. Pakistan won by eight wickets. Toss: Sri Lanka.
In front of a boisterous full house at Lord's, this hugely successful tournament came to a satisfying, if not gripping, climax as Pakistan ultimately ran out comfortable winners under a warm midsummer sun. Younis Khan dedicated the triumph to Bob Woolmer, his mentor and former coach who died in the dark hours following defeat by Ireland in the 2007 World Cup, a terrible low in the history of Pakistan cricket. Now, however, came a high every bit as uplifting as winning the 1992 World Cup - perhaps more so given the world's unwillingness to travel to Pakistan in the wake of the Lahore terrorist atrocity in March, an attack which injured seven Sri Lankan cricketers (including three, Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Mendis playing here). Younis also made an impassioned plea for international cricket to return to Pakistan, as well as announcing his immediate retirement from Twenty20 internationals.
As in the semi-ﬁnal victory over South Africa, Shahid Afridi claimed the match award for an all-round performance of sheer brilliance. Once again he abandoned his trademark ﬁre-and-brimstone approach, giving a display of maturity that had long seemed beyond him, especially with a bat in his hand. A target of 139 was not daunting yet, in a Lord's ﬁnal against a team so adept at defending a total, it was far from straightforward. The aggressive Kamran Akmal gave Pakistan the perfect start with 37 from 28 balls. The old Afridi, spurred on by the adoring crowd chanting his name, might have been tempted to outdo Akmal from the word go. Instead he was content to accumulate, moving to a boundaryless 17 from 19 balls before opening out to pull Murali from outside off for a six over midwicket, followed next ball by a four over extra cover. Coming as the Sri Lankan spinners were threatening to take the asking-rate above eight, it kept Pakistan in front. Afridi repeated the trick in the 18th over when, with 26 needed from 18 balls, Sangakkara gambled by bringing back the inexperienced Udana rather than the cannier Jayasuriya. Another leg-side six followed by a four; 19 from the over put the result beyond doubt.
The match had begun with the tournament's dominant batsman facing its youngest bowler. Yet it was Dilshan who betrayed nerves as Mohammad Aamer, a 17-year-old left- armer, continually pitched short. The plan worked: Dilshan mistimed a scoop to short ﬁne leg for a ﬁfth-ball duck. Mubarak came and went with a ﬂash and, when Jayasuriya ended his feisty ten-ball innings by playing on, Sri Lanka were in tatters at 26 for three.
The middle order, their major weakness on an unbeaten journey to the ﬁnal, had one last chance to prove itself. Silva hung around brieﬂy with Sangakkara, but Udana, oddly promoted to No. 7, did not, instead becoming the seventh batsman bowled by Afridi in the competition - most trying to cut - and his 11th victim in all. Then came the only passage of play to go Sri Lanka's way. From the depths of 70 for six in the 13th over, Sangakkara, playing with increasing aggression, and Mathews, hitting the ball sweetly, added 68 in a stand as remarkable for its intelligence as its acceleration. Despite facing Umar Gul, the master of the reverse-swinging yorker, for two of the last four overs, they cracked 50 from 24 balls, keeping Sri Lanka in the game. But the Pakistani batsmen played the three Ms - Malinga, Mendis and Muralitharan - as well as anyone, certainly with less fear, and Afridi was there to soak up the adulation when the winning run came.
Man of the Match: Shahid Afridi. Attendance: 28,048. Man of the Tournament: T. M. Dilshan.