Brilliant batting by Shahid Afridi and a fiery bowling performance drove Pakistan to a 23-run series-levelling victory over Sri Lanka in the second and final Twenty20 international yesterday.
Chasing a modest 123, Sri Lanka ran into a roadblock as Kumar Sangakkara fell in the fourth over to Yasir Arafat with the score on 19. Four balls later, Arafat removed Nuwan Kulasekara who was sent in as a pinch-hitter.
Tillakaratne Dilshan hit four boundaries in his 18 before having having his stumps disturbed by a Shahid Afridi quicker ball. By then, with a run rate below five, Sri Lanka were on the ropes as Pakistan took full advantage of the difficult batting conditions.
Chamara Kapugedera, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne all got starts but their innings were snuffed out before they could do any damage. Pakistan’s mixture of high quality pace and spin reduced the Lankans to 85 for six, needing 38 to win off 22 balls with only one specialist batsman in Angelo Mathews left. But he was always fighting a losing battle as the fiery Mohammad Sami and the cunning Saeed Ajmal cleaned up the tail without fuss. Sami and Arafat picked up three each, while Afridi scalped two.
Earlier, after Pakistan chose to bat first, Afridi smashed an unbeaten 52 off 33 balls to help Pakistan score a competitive 122-6.
Pakistan were struggling at 41-4 before all-rounder Afridi steadied the innings with a 68-run stand for the fifth wicket with Shoaib Malik, who hit three successive fours off leg-spinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi in his 26-ball 27.
Afridi, who became the first player to appear in 50 T20 internationals, hit one six and five fours in his fourth half-century.
Lokuarachchi bagged two of the first four wickets to reduce Pakistan to 41-4, removing skipper Mohammad Hafeez (24) and Umar Akmal (five) in his four-over spell.
Paceman Kulasekera was the most impressive bowler, finishing with 2-13 off four tight overs.
Sri Lanka, who lead the series 1-0 following their 37-run victory in the opening match on Friday, rested skipper Mahela Jayawardene and paceman Lasith Malinga and brought in Isuru Udana and Chamara Kapugedera.
All-rounder Mathews led the hosts.
Pakistan made one change, replacing Umar Gul with Yasir Arafat.
SCORES IN BRIEF
PAKISTAN: 122 for 6 (Afridi 52 not out, Malik 27, Hafeez 24; Kulasekara 2-13, Lokuarachchi 2-31)
SRI LANKA: 99 all out in 19.2 overs (Kapugedera 19, Dilshan 18, Thirimanne 18; Sami 3-16, Arafat 3-18, Afridi 2-17)
-With The Daily Star input