Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 19 News List

New skipper Afridi inspires Pakistan to Colombo victory

AFP , COLOMBO

Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi celebrates after the dismissal of Sri Lankan batsman Chamara Kapugedera during their Twenty20 match in Colombo on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Shahid Afridi shone with bat and ball on his debut as Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain to steer the world champions to an emphatic 52-run win over Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Afridi smashed 50 off 37 balls in Pakistan’s 172-5, then claimed 1-21 in four economical overs and effected a run out with a direct throw as Sri Lanka were shot out for 120 with 11 balls to spare.

A sell-out crowd of 35,000 at the overflowing Premadasa stadium watched the first Twenty20 match between the two teams since the World Twenty20 final in England in June, when Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets.

The result was the same as seamer Rana Naved and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal picked up three wickets each to stun the hosts.

Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals with skipper Kumar Sangakkara the only batsman to offer resistance against the fired-up Pakistanis with 38 off 31 balls.

Afridi, who was man of the match in both the semi-final and final at the Worlds, once again won the award as Pakistan ended an otherwise dismal tour of Sri Lanka on a winning note.

Pakistan had lost the preceding Test series 2-0 and conceded the one-dayers by a 2-3 margin during the six-week tour.

Afridi hit two sixes and four boundaries after taking over the Twenty20 team from Test and one-day skipper Younus Khan, who has retired from the shortest format of the game.

“I told the boys before the match that we were world champions and so we should go out there and play like champions,” the 29-year-old Afridi said. “I am an aggressive captain and I wanted the whole team to play aggressively. That is what we did and I must congratulate the whole team for a fantastic win.”

Sangakkara blamed the defeat on a poor all-round display.

“I think we gave Pakistan 20-25 extra runs,” he said. “We would have been happier chasing around 150 and although we got a good start, we fell away at the end. We have to learn from this and improve the next time we get on the field.”

Sri Lanka take on New Zealand in a two-Test series starting in Galle on Tuesday.

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