Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:33:42 GMT

Afridi shines with ball in Pakistan's thrilling win over Lanka

Colombo: Pakistan held their nerves to pull off a stunning 11-run victory over title aspirants Sri Lanka in a nail-biting group A World Cup league match here.

Pakistan won by 11 runs

The Pakistanis first posted a competitive 277 for seven, relying on half centuries by Misbah-ul-Haq (unbeaten 83) and Younis Khan (72) and then restricted Sri Lanka to 266 for nine to virtually assure themselves a quarter-final berth.

Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi sparkled with the ball as he took four wickets and became only the third bowler from his country to take 300 or more ODI wickets.

The Pakistanis, though, were found wanting in the ground fielding as they missed stumping chances, dropped catches and missed run outs.

Chamara Silva (57) played a gritty knock and shared a 73-run stand for the fifth-wicket with his skipper Sangakkara (49) in Lanka's fight but that only reduced the defeat margin.

Afridi (4/34) bowled extremely well in the middle overs and yet again turned the tide in his side's favour as he took crucial wickets of Tillakaratne Dilshan (41), Sangakkara (49) Thilan Samaraweera (1) and Angelo Mathews (18).

Paceman Shoaib Akhtar (2/42) contributed in the win by scalping two Lankan batsmen.

Sri Lanka did not make a flying start with Pakistan fast bowlers Akhtar and Abdul Razzak being brilliant with the new ball as they hardly gave scoring opportunities.

But the hosts openers -- Dilshan and Upul Tharanga (33) -- did well to bat together for about 15 overs, raising 76 runs to lay a good foundation for the chase.

Sri Lanka though let go the advantage by losing well-set Tharanga, who drove one off Mohammed Hafeez uppishly and Afridi took a smart low catch at mid-off.

Afridi gave Sri Lanka the second shock when he bowled dangerous Dilshan and when the Pakistan skipper called Akhtar for his second spell, the speedster responded by knocking off the middle stump of Mahela Jayawardene (2).

The home fans and the host dressing room had hardly recovered from the blow that Afridi combined with stumper Kamran Akmal to script the fall of Samaraweera (1).

Afridi bowled a flighted one, beat Samaraweera's forward- defence and Akmal took the bails off in a flash.

Sangakkara along with Silva stopped the freefall of wickets but both the batsmen were lucky as Pakistan fielders made a mess of the chances offered by the Lankan players.

The Lankan skipper survived two stumping chances off spinner Abdur Rehman, with Kamran being the villain.

Rehman himself proved a disaster as a fielder by dropping Silva off Umar Gul in the 36th over in what was a simple chance on mis-timed pull.

Sangakkara finally ran out of luck as an ambitious shot off Afridi landed in the hands of Ahmed Shezad at long-on, giving the Pakistan skipper his 300th One-day wicket.

Mathews and Silva took the hosts near the target and it all boiled to the last over in which the Sri Lanka required 18 runs. But Umar Gul ensured Pakistan come out triumphant.