Pakistan outshines Sri Lanka in nail-biting encounter

Shahid Afridi in match with Sri Lanka in World Cup 2011by Karrar Raza
Karachi, Pakistan

The ‘Afridi XI’ held their nerves, despite dropping countless catches, as Pakistan beat Sri Lanka with just 11 runs to register their second successive win in the ICC World Cup 2011.

The air in Colombo was filled with the cheers of thousands of fans and supporters for both the nations, although being the heart of Sri Lanka, there was evidently less support for Pakistan. The crowd was expecting a tight contest, and the reality proved no different.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first, and for the rarest of starts, the top order actually accounted for something, as they led the team to 76 for 1 in 13 overs, before some silly shots led to Hafeez and Akmal falling relatively quickly. But once again Younis, coupled with an unlikely partner in Misbah, created a strong middle-over foundation for Pakistan thanks to a 108-run stand. At one point, it seemed that 320 was on the map, but the Sri Lankans snagged back the game, courtesy epic bowling by Muralitharan who managed to give as little as five runs in the two Powerplay overs he got. With a mix of confused aggression, the Pakistanis managed to score 277 in their 50 overs.

The chase from the off was almost symmetric. There was but one difference: the Lankans had scored over 70 without any losses. But it seemed destiny had to keep bookmakers on both the sides happy; as soon as it seemed the Sri Lankans were going strong, Pakistan pounced into the game with wickets at proper intervals. With skill and care, Afridi led his pack of lions with timely wickets and dried up the boundaries. Needless to say, every once in a while, a catch was missed or a stumping erred. (It’s almost a natural act with the team and most certainly with Kamran).

But they say that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. With 100 runs in the last ten overs to go, Sri Lanka grappled at the game back with some fine hitting. It was really when Silva (the man who had fooled both sides all evening into thinking he’s their own) fell to a Kamran stumping that the game was truly over. Kulasekara did make a final attempt by cracking a 14-ball 24 in the end, but it just wasn’t enough to fetch the game for the tigers.

Apart from the general Kudos, Afridi had another reason to smile in the end; he is now part of the elusive list of players with 300 wickets in their career.

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