Today was Shahid Afridi’s day, who batted well for his unbeaten half-century and later took two wickets in his four overs and also took a catch to help Pakistan bowled Sri Lanka out for 99 runs, 24 runs short of victory target in the second Twenty20 played at the Hambantota on Saturday.
Sri Lanka rested Jayawardene and Lasith Malina for second Twenty20 international. Pakistan after winning the toss did not hesitate and chose to bat first but got early jolt when Ahmed Shahzad fell prey to Kulasekara while playing cross batted shot and was plumb when team total was just 11 runs in the third over of match.
At one stage, Pakistan were tottering at 41-4 but Shoaib Malik and Afridi steadied innings and added 68 runs for the fifth wicket stand that helped Pakistan to post 122 in the allotted overs. At that stage, it was feared that Pakistan might lose the match but their better planning foiled Sri Lankans victory hopes and with their tight bowling did not allow Sri Lanka to score easily in the match and made them struggle throughout the game as they were bundled out for 99 runs in the last over.
Earlier, Dilshan kept Sri Lanka on track and at that point it was evident that hosts will take match away from Pakistan reach but after his departure visitors took total control of the game. Pakistani bowlers looked in rhythm and bowled well while fielders backed them and only five Lankan players were able to reach the double figure beside 11 extras. M Sami and Yasir Arafat got three wickets each while Afridi got two scalps and took one catch to earn Man of the Match award while fast bowler Sohail Tanvir was declared Man of the series.
It looked that Pakistan today utilised right batting combination and utilised batsmen at the right place. Captain Hafeez made good bowling changes that worked today and was satisfied with the team’s performance while coach Dav Whatmore also looked happy over squaring the series 1-all. Now Twenty20 series has gone into the record books and Pakistan Coach Dav Whatmore and team management should now look for one-day series and chalk out strategy to win the 50-over series.
Nine Pakistani Twenty20 format batsmen will return to Pakistan today (Monday) and nine fresh players including captain Misbahul Haq, Younus Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Aizaz Cheema and others will join the team to participate in the one-day series to be started from June 7.