Saturday, February 26, 2011

World Cup 2011 : Sri Lanka vs Pakistan...

Today's match Sri Lanka against Pakistan - all the materials for a humdinger & so it was.
Afridi won the toss for Pakistan & elected to bat on a sun drenched pitch at Colombo, a track that is anticipated to spin later in the day.
Mohammad Hafeez & Ahmed Shehzad strolled in to open the innings. For Sri Lanka, it was surprising to rest Malinga again, especially for such a crucial match. Lets all hope, the pacer's injury is not any concern!!!
The openers were off to a sedate start, before Shehzad nicked one from Perera behind in the 6th over, with the score reading 28 for 1. In came Kamran Akmal, with clear intentions of hitting. On the other side, Hafeez too looked in good form, hitting Kulasekara for a six & four, as the score started to mount. 50 came in the 9th over, as Akmal drove one to the cover fence, with effortless ease. The partnership was looking good for Pakistan, with score at 65 for 1 at end of 10th over....a healthy run rate.
In the 13th over, with spin introduced, against the run of the play, Hafeez was run out.....needlessly.  100 of the innings came in the 19th over, but with spinners at both ends, scoring came down. Kamran, too needlessly danced down the wicket, missed the flight to Herath, to be stumped out for a well made 39.....a good start wasted. By the end of 25 overs the score read 123 for 3, with Younis Khan & Misbah Ul Haq trying to build. Younis got to his 41st fifty, as the score reached 170 for 3 in the 35th over. A good platform to launch, with big hitters yet to come. Quality cricketing shots by both the batters, took the score past 200 in the 39th over. Finally while Misbah reached his fifty, Younis, in a effort to increase the run rate got out to a well made 72 off 76 deliveries. 213 for 4. Kumal Akmal next in did not do much & holed out Murali to Dilshan in the deep. 238 for 5. Captain Afridi next in, with batting power plays on. This improved the scoring a bit, but Afridi went for 16 off 12 deliveries, caught by Dilshan. The innings finally folded for 277 for 6. Misbah remaining unbeaten for a very well made 83 off 91. Certainly a good total for this kind of a match.
Of the bowlers, Mural was his meagre best with 1 for 35 in his 10 overs.

In such a pressure game, the chase would never be easy. Srilankan openers Dilshan & Tharanga got off to a slow start, reaching just 42 runs in 10 overs. The 12th over went for 16 runs off Umar Gul & the score moved to 64, as Afridi introduced spin into the attack. This produced immediate results, as Tharanga pulled one from Hafeez to be caught at mid off in the 15th over for 33 runs. The first wicket had added 76 runs. Dlishan didnt last long either. Afridi bowled him in the 18th over, as the score read 88 for this stage Pakistan were 92 for 2.... Match on. It was now upto Sangakkara & Mahela Jayawardene to build a partnership in the middle. However, that was not to be. Shoaib Akhtar, who had been bowling consistently over 140 kmph in the match, bowled him, & started his aeroplane run!!!. Match slightly tilted towards Pakistan. Next to go was Samaraweera, stumpted Akmal, bowled Afridi. - 96 for 4. 100 came in the 23rd over, as Sanga looked set for a big score. Batting Powerplay taken in the over brought some momentum to the score with 35 runs added. This was aided by some very poor wicket keeping by Akmal who failed two simple stumping chances & Rahman dropped a sitter in the deep.  However, Sangakkara finally holed out in the deep for a well made 49 runs. It was Afridi's 300th ODI wicket...exceptional performance !!!169 for 5 & required run rate more than 9 at this stage. Angela Mathews did his best to improve the run rate, but he too perished to a Afridi delivery holing out to long off. 208 for 6. Stiil 70 required from 38 deliveries. Thisara Perera joined Chamara Silva in the middle. Afridi ended his bowling with a magnificent 4 for 33 in 10 overs. Silva reached his 50 in 73 deliveries. At the end of 45 overs, the score 223 for 6, with 55 runs required from 30 deliveries. Shoaib Akhtar, back in attack gave runs but managed to bowl out Perera....score 232 for 7. Next over & Silva gets stumpted by Kamran off Rehman. Score 232 for 8 & match slipping out of Sri Lanka. Kulasekara tried his best, but his 24 runs of 14 deliveries were not enough & finally it was Pakistan winning by 11 runs. It was Sri Lanka's first loss at home in the World Cup. This was certainly an upset in the tournament. A match that had lived up to its billing.
Afridi & Akhtar were exceptional in bowling getting wickets at crucial stages of the innings, & restricting Sri Lanka to 266 for 9....11 runs short. This Pakistan side is definitely a dangerous team for ths World Cup.

Man of the Match : Shahid Afridi for his brilliant performance with ball, decent batting & solid captaincy under pressure.