Afridi shines in Pakistan win
By Rizwan Khatik - Sat Nov 12, 5:21 am
Dubai: Shahid Afridi returned to international cricket in style and inspired Pakistan to an eight wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the first One-day match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Showing no signs of a cricketer who had retired from the game following differences with his board officials, Afridi produced a spell of 3 for 27 backed by spinners Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez with two wickets each and bowled out Sri Lanka for 131 runs in just 40.3 overs.
Chasing a run rate of just 3.23 runs per over, Pakistan raced to victory in 21.5 overs. After Sekkuge Prasanna dismissed Pakistan opener Mohammad Hafeez for five runs, opener Imran Farhat and Younis Khan put on a 103 runs partnership for the second wicket in 17.3 overs.
Farhat hit 50 runs off 65 balls with seven boundaries while Khan remained unconquered on 56 runs of 57 balls with seven boundaries.
Thousands of Pakistan fans holding banners welcoming Afridi had arrived much before the start. Even before the toss, they began waving it from the stands and Afridi rewarded them with a spell that destroyed Sri Lanka’s innings.
When Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq offered the ball to Afridi to bowl, all his fans stood up to give him a standing ovation. It was the 20th over of the match but Dinesh Chandimal hit the third ball from Afridi for a six to deep mid wicket forcing the fans to sit down. The flamboyant character that is Afridi, with the very next ball produced a beauty to trap Chandimal leg before.
After taking the wicket, he turned towards his fans raising both his hands for their applause. A banner far away in the corner said: “Afridi’s return has commenced and Sri Lanka’s end has begun.” Afridi proved it correct bowling a tight line and length on a wicket which also assisted his team’s spinners.
Sri Lankans had come with their musical equipment but they could hardly play it as moments of joy were very few. Their skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan played a lovely cover drive to the boundary off Aizaz Cheema and the fans stood up to dance. Their joy was short lived as Cheema nipped back his delivery and Dilshan going for a cut inside edged the delivery on to his stumps.
Sri Lankan fans received their inform batsman Kumar Sangakkara waving their country’s flag. Sangakarra, who batted fluently here during the second Test match, struggled to get going. With the fifth ball of his first over Abdul Razzaq forced him to edge to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed. Sangakkara played 24 balls to score five runs.