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June 21, 2009
Statement of the day
If there was a fear before the final that Pakistan's meek alter ego was due an untimely return, then Mohammad Aamer dispelled that in the space of five furiously hostile deliveries. Tillakaratne Dilshan came into the match with 317 runs to his name, but never before in the tournament had he been made to hop to this extent. Evoking the spirit of his left-arm role model, Wasim Akram, the 17-year-old Aamer hurtled to the crease and pounded the middle of the pitch. His first ball sizzled straight past Dilshan's nose, his second and third were played with unease off the toes. The fourth was a brute that bounced off body, bat, and away into space. And the fifth was too good; Dilshan shaped to play his scoop but ended up scooping himself. Shahzaib Hasan claimed the catch, and the final had been ignited.
Innings of the day
Has Shahid Afridi ever played so far within himself, and yet rattled along with such haste? Incredibly, he did not score his first boundary until he had nudged away 19 balls, but when he went for his strokes they came off with spectacular effect. His first shot in anger was a mow with the spin to deposit Muttiah Muralitharan into the midwicket stands, and he followed up with a charge and a blaze next ball. But whereas in performances past, he might have sought glory and perished in the attempt, this time he ducked straight back into his fox-hole. He would not reappear until the 18th over, when - with 19 runs from 14 balls still needed and Lasith Malinga warming up - he put the result beyond doubt by blazing Isuru Udana into the Tavern.
Wrecker of the day
The IPL has become a handy scapegoat for the failure of India's campaign but, for Lalit Modi, the identity of Pakistan's bowling matchwinner will be doubly galling. It was the ICL that won it, as Abdul Razzaq emerged from his two-year entanglement with the rival Twenty20 league to roll back the years with a virtuoso performance. Building on the efforts of his new-ball partner Aamer, Razzaq hit the seam from the get-go to choke Sri Lanka's line-up. Jehan Mubarak flapped a leading edge to fall for a second-ball duck; Sanath Jayasuriya's stand-and-deliver counterattack ended with a chop onto his own stumps, and when Mahela Jayawardene dinked a length delivery into the midriff of a wide and solitary slip, the prospects of Sri Lanka's salvation were slim in the extreme.
Rebuilder of the day
One man remained, and how vital he turned out to be. It has been a feature of Sri Lanka's tournament that only one batsman at a time has made an impression, and today it was the turn of the skipper to front up for his team. On Friday, Kumar Sangakkara had lasted only two deliveries in a crazy contest ruled by the bats of Dilshan and Chris Gayle, and afterwards, he admitted he needed to take that little bit longer to play himself in. Whether crashing your third ball through midwicket really counts as watchfulness is debatable, or even threading your fourth elegantly through the covers. But either way, Sangakkara endured while his team-mates crumbled. He coolly accumulated at a run a ball until, from the nadir of 70 for 6, he found an ally in whom he could trust. And he was still there at the end with Angelo Mathews, by which stage that tally of runs had been doubled.
Sidekick of the day
It's little wonder Sangakkara was so confident of the support that Mathews provided, for he had been effusive in his praise following the semi-final win - on which occasion, of course, it had been his bowling that did the talking.
"You may look at him and think he's not the ideal Twenty20 player," said Sangakkara, "but he's a guy who can play any format of the game. He's got a solid technique, he's mature, he reads the game well, and he's an allrounder." So it proved in an impeccable display, in which Mathews first matched his captain's tempo and then, in a thrillingly-timed acceleration, launched 17 from Aamer's final over of the innings to turn a flimsy 121 into a defendable 138.
Opener of the day
On a day when boundaries were a relative rarity, and when Dilshan's scoop was unable to produce the goods, Kamran Akmal unfurled the shot that took the breath away - a down-on-one-knee fetch through midwicket to dump Mathews into the Grandstand. Akmal's aggression at the top of the innings was overshadowed by the maturity of Afridi's finish but, nevertheless, the impetus he provided with his 37 from 28 could not be underestimated. With Shahzaib Hasan ticking along in his wake, Kamran ensured in a 48-run stand that the froth was blown off a potentially dicey target.
Celebration of the day 1
The winning moment felt almost anticlimactic - if such a thing was possible in so fevered an atmosphere. Afridi sized up a slap through midwicket but the ball merely trickled off his pads. No matter, the run was in the book and the trophy was in the bag, with an over and two balls to spare. What followed was glorious, as Afridi first checked that Udana's lbw appeal had not been upheld, and then, with legs akimbo and a triumphant hoist of the arms, he stood in his crease and lapped up the acclaim. He knew that his team would not be far behind, and sure enough, out they hurtled from the dug-out, to acclaim the man who had steered them back from exile and right onto centre stage.
Celebration of the day 2
Has a Lord's crowd ever felt so involved in a contest? The stands were a sea of green as Britain's expat Pakistanis mopped up any ticket they could find, and swarmed through the turnstiles to turn the great old ground into an adjunct of the National Stadium, Karachi. With flags dangling off the Compton top tier, and banners mocking India's "pussycats", it was little wonder their team sailed home on such a tide of emotion. By the end, however, it was all too much for two euphoric spectators, who leapt from the Grandstand as the lap of honour jogged past, and in a chaotic tangle of limbs as a battalion of irate stewards got involved, they came as close as anyone to bringing the team to its knees.