Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Sharjah
Shahid Afridi single-handedly delivers unassailable lead
It was the Shahid Afridi show in Sharjah, from start to finish
Pakistan 200 (Afridi 75, Fernando 3-26) beat Sri Lanka 174 (Sangakkara 58, Jayawardene 55, Cheema 5-35)
Sharjah’s die-hard cricket tragics waited eight years to see their favourite team in one-day action. They went back, sated by five unforgettable vistas of Shahid Afridi’s trademark arms-aloft celebration, as he single-handedly nipped Sri Lanka in a dramatic finish. Chasing 201 to level the series, Sri Lanka were on course with Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara dictating terms with half-centuries, reducing the equation to 46 needed off 74 balls. Afridi was, however, reading from a script no one else had access to. He derailed the tail with a mix of legbreaks, googlies and fastish offspinners, as Sri Lanka floundered hopelessly to lose their last seven wickets for just 19 runs.
That Pakistan even had 200 to defend was down to Afridi again, after they had disintegrated to 97 for 6. The situation was so dire that Afridi was forced to challenge his normally aggressive approach and play within himself. Not only did Afridi manage the feat, he also managed to accelerate and finish with 75 off 65 balls.
Afridi scarcely put a foot wrong today, except when a sliding stop went awry early in the chase. His knee got stuck in the turf, wrenching out a massive divot as he landed in agony. Afridi needed treatment and was helped off the field, but it wasn’t going to keep him out of the action for long.
By the time Afridi and Saeed Ajmal came on, Sangakkara and Jayawardene had settled in after Aizaz Cheema’s opening spell had accounted for the openers. Ajmal started off with a maiden to Sangakkara, before Afridi made him look ordinary in his first over. He beat Sangakkara with a googly, and got him to inside-edge a legbreak past the stumps. Ajmal then slipped a doosra past Jayawardene’s outside edge for the umpteenth time in the series, and Afridi dipped a legbreak menacingly close to his off stump. The oohs and aahs from the close-in fielders conveyed just how important the next wicket would be to Pakistan’s cause.
With the run-rate under control, Sangakkara and Jayawardene buckled down and focused on playing time. Only three boundaries came in the 17-over phase starting with the 18th over, but Sri Lanka were within touching distance at the end of that grind. Jayawardene and Sangakkara passed their 50s, and ten Pakistani shoulders dropped in unison. One man was not finished, though.
After troubling Sangakkara endlessly, Afridi slipped a quick fizzer through his gate in his sixth over. Angelo Mathews was beaten by an Afridi legbreak, and two Ajmal doosras before feathering his fourth ball down the leg side. The Sri Lankan dressing room began to look uneasy once Afridi ripped Jeevan Mendis out with an offbreak that angled in from round the stumps and straightened at 84 kph.
With 34 needed off 7 overs, Jayawardene held the key, but Afridi lulled him into driving low to Mohammad Hafeez who held well at cover. Seekkuge Prasanna scudded his first ball low to the left of the pitch, but the ease with which Afridi swooped to his left and plucked it made for as telling viewing as the X-man celebration that followed. Within the space of three overs, Afridi had flipped the game on its head. It was only fitting that he got the last wicket, when Thisara Perera slogged into the sky with the game already out of Sri Lanka’s grasp.
Afridi’s impact was just as telling with the bat, if not as dramatic. Dilhara Fernando did the early damage before Sri Lanka’s young spinners found their voice for the first time since Muttiah Muralitharan’s retirement, exposing Pakistan’s inability to read the variations out of the hand. Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal were clueless against Jeevan Mendis’ googlies, while Hafeez holed out recklessly.
Afridi’s methods were perfect for the situation, though. He picked the spinners from the hand more often than not, but when he didn’t he gave himself enough time to read them off the track. When Sri Lanka landed it in his zone, he pummelled them. Lasith Malinga was crashed through the covers, Mendis was bombarded over long-on, but Pakistan’s mess was about to become messier.
Misbah ran himself out for the second time in two games, and Sarfraz Ahmed fell by the wayside, leaving Afridi shepherding the tail. Like he would later in the evening, Afridi found a willing partner in Ajmal. Their stand featured some feverish calling and smart running in the batting Powerplay, as Pakistan’s tally ticked over from the abject to the realms of the defendable.
With ten overs to go, Afridi targeted Prasanna, backing away and lashing Prasanna with the spin for a six over extra cover to bring up his first fifty in 16 innings. He then thumped him straight and hacked through the covers for fours, before launching another six down the ground. Fernando dropped him off the next ball, but Afridi could not extend the carnage as he perished in the 44th over. Perhaps, the man knew right then that he had already made enough to play with.
Pakistan 200 (49.3 ov) Sri Lanka 174 (45.2 ov) Pakistan won by 26 runs
- Pakistan v Sri Lanka ODI Series – 4th ODI
- ODI no. 3215 | 2011/12 season
- Played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium (neutral venue)
- 20 November 2011 – day/night (50-over match)
|Pakistan innings (50 overs maximum)||R||B||4s||6s||SR|
|Mohammad Hafeez||c Chandimal b Prasanna||27||51||3||0||52.94|
|Imran Farhat||c †Sangakkara b Fernando||10||17||2||0||58.82|
|Younis Khan||c Mendis b Fernando||18||27||1||0||66.66|
|Misbah-ul-Haq*||run out (Fernando/Mendis)||16||34||2||0||47.05|
|Shoaib Malik||lbw b Mendis||2||22||0||0||9.09|
|Umar Akmal||lbw b Mendis||2||5||0||0||40.00|
|Shahid Afridi||c †Sangakkara b Perera||75||65||4||3||115.38|
|Sarfraz Ahmed†||lbw b Prasanna||10||17||0||0||58.82|
|Saeed Ajmal||lbw b Fernando||20||37||1||0||54.05|
|Umar Gul||b Malinga||7||13||0||0||53.84|
|Aizaz Cheema||not out||3||9||0||0||33.33|
|Extras||(lb 2, w 8)||10|
|Total||(all out; 49.3 overs)||200||(4.04 runs per over)|
|Fall of wickets1-18 (Imran Farhat, 6.1 ov), 2-57 (Mohammad Hafeez, 15.2 ov), 3-62 (Younis Khan, 16.1 ov), 4-69 (Shoaib Malik, 21.6 ov), 5-71 (Umar Akmal, 23.5 ov), 6-97 (Misbah-ul-Haq, 27.6 ov), 7-120 (Sarfraz Ahmed, 34.2 ov), 8-181 (Shahid Afridi, 43.6 ov), 9-191 (Saeed Ajmal, 46.6 ov), 10-200 (Umar Gul, 49.3 ov)|
|Sri Lanka innings (target: 201 runs from 50 overs)||R||B||4s||6s||SR|
|WU Tharanga||c Younis Khan b Aizaz Cheema||16||13||3||0||123.07|
|TM Dilshan*||c †Sarfraz Ahmed b Aizaz Cheema||11||21||2||0||52.38|
|KC Sangakkara†||b Shahid Afridi||58||103||6||0||56.31|
|LD Chandimal||b Mohammad Hafeez||11||19||2||0||57.89|
|DPMD Jayawardene||c Mohammad Hafeez b Shahid Afridi||55||87||2||1||63.21|
|AD Mathews||c †Sarfraz Ahmed b Saeed Ajmal||0||4||0||0||0.00|
|BMAJ Mendis||lbw b Shahid Afridi||2||7||0||0||28.57|
|NLTC Perera||c Umar Akmal b Shahid Afridi||7||11||1||0||63.63|
|S Prasanna||c & b Shahid Afridi||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|SL Malinga||lbw b Saeed Ajmal||4||6||0||0||66.66|
|CRD Fernando||not out||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|Extras||(lb 3, w 6, nb 1)||10|
|Total||(all out; 45.2 overs)||174||(3.83 runs per over)|
|Fall of wickets1-18 (Tharanga, 3.3 ov), 2-37 (Dilshan, 7.6 ov), 3-53 (Chandimal, 12.4 ov), 4-155 (Sangakkara, 37.5 ov), 5-156 (Mathews, 38.4 ov), 6-161 (Mendis, 41.3 ov), 7-168 (Jayawardene, 43.2 ov), 8-168 (Prasanna, 43.3 ov), 9-174 (Malinga, 44.5 ov), 10-174 (Perera, 45.2 ov)|
|Shoaib Malik||5||1||17||0||3.40||(1nb, 2w)|
|Toss Pakistan, who chose to bat
Series Pakistan led the 5-match series 3-1
|Player of the match Shahid Afridi|
|Umpires RK Illingworth (England) and Zameer Haider (Pakistan)
TV umpire M Erasmus (South Africa)
Match referee AJ Pycroft (Zimbabwe)
Reserve umpire Ahsan Raza (Pakistan)
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