|Scorecard:||Pakistan v Sri Lanka|
|Player:||Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, KC Sangakkara, AD Mathews|
|Event:||ICC World Twenty20 2009|
DateLine: 21st June 2009
Shahid Afridi exorcised all the ghosts that have been haunting them over the last couple of years as he found the touch which had been promising to return for a while now. He displayed maturity, something he has not always been credited with, as he and Shoaib Malik guided Pakistan to a famous World T20 title.
Chasing Sri Lankaís moderate 138/6, which also came thanks to Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews, Pakistan rode on Afridiís very collected knock of 54 not out off 40 balls (two fours, two sixes) and a third-wicket stand of 76 with Malik (24, 22 balls, one boundary) scripted one of the biggest wins for the beleaguered nation.
The initial plan of not allowing Sri Lanka early breakthroughs was executed very well by Kamran Akmal and teenaged Shahzaib Hasan, who put on 48 runs in seven overs before Akmal fell off the first ball of the eighth. But Lanka could not make breakthroughs frequently enough and with Afridi guiding Hasan along, the second wicket partnership, albeit slow at times, also kept the Lankan spinners at bay.
The three Mís for Lanka between them managed only one wicket and that made the difference. The Pakistan batsmen played them brilliantly, and at best the spinners were restrictive. But with a very average score to chase, they had to get wickets, and they could not.
Pakistan had their bowling plans perfectly in place, the mantra being not bowling length or full, negating the drives and forcing the Lankan batsmen to play the horizontal bat shots. It bore fruit instant as Tillekeratne Dilshan attempted a pull off Mohammad Aamer and holed out.
Things kept going downhill for the islanders as Jehan Mubarak, pushed up the order to attempt some quick runs, also played with his edge and Abdul Razzaq was the beneficiary, Hasan taking his second catch.
Jayasuriya belted a few around, including a six off Razzaq but then inside-edged one onto his stumps, and at 26/3 after just 3.5 overs, Sri Lanka were threatening to implode.
Things hardly improved when Mahela Jayawardene sliced one to Misbah-ul-Haq off Razzaq, and once Umar Gul and Afridi had removed Chamara Silva and Isuru Udana, at 70/6 after 13 overs, it looked like curtains for the Lankans.
Sangakkara, who had been a spectator as the carnage unfolded at the other end, desperately sought someone to hold his end up so the skipper could add a few vital runs.
He found that partner in Angelo Mathews as the young all-rounder put his head down and stuck to the job with a lot of focus and some skill.
The duo was involved in a 68-runs seventh-wicket stand which was like gold for Sri Lanka. They played some fine shots, and ran the twos desperately as slowly the score began to look fighting if not daunting.
Sangakkara, towards the end, left the long handle job to Mathews, who did a great job. The skipper ultimately remained unbeaten on 64 off 52 balls with seven boundaries, while Mathews compiled a fine 35 not out off 24 deliveries with three boundaries and a much-needed six.
The bowling was as always in great shape. Razzaq celebrated his return to top-line cricket once more, with a spell off 3/20 off three overs while Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Gul played their roles brilliantly.