Afridi bowls Pakistan to 11-run win

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Pakistan overcame a shoddy display on the field to beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs in a Group A match in ICC Cricket World Cup match at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Saturday.

Leading the charge for Pakistan was inspirational skipper Shahid Afridi who picked 4-34 to lead his side to the win. Pakistan posted 277-7 in their 50 overs and Sri Lanka were limited to 266-9 from 50 overs.

Earlier Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan hit half-centuries to propel Pakistan to 277 for 7. In the chase Sri Lanka made a confident start of 76 with T.M Dilshan (41) and Upul Tharanga (33). But thereafter a middle-order failed to provide what was required and left Sri Lanka with a tough task.

Skipper Kumar Sangakkara made 49 off 61 balls, but he survived two stumping chances, a dropped catch during his effort. A late charge by Chamara Silva (57: 78b, 5x4) raised hopes. Later Nuwan Kulasekara (24) used the long handle to good effect, but it was too little too late.

Shoaib Akhtar (2-42) was the other best bowler for Pakistan. Misbah, Pakistan vice-captain, struck an unbeaten 83 - his second consecutive fifty in the tournament – while Younis followed his 50 against Kenya in Hambantota with a 76-ball 72. The senior duo put on 108 off 123 balls for the fourth wicket to give Pakistan a respectable total to defend.

Pakistan was placed at 105-3 when Misbah joined Younus and together they made good use of the middle overs. The Pakistanis, however, failed to make the most of the last ten overs including the batting power-play as they were tied down by veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and Nuwan Kulasekera. Murali finished with 1-35 in his ten overs.

He went for just five runs in his last two overs during batting powerplay. Fast bowler Kulasekera, too, was impressive as he bowled several dot balls during the death overs.

Kamran Akmal scored 39 off 48 balls while opener Mohammad Hafeez chipped in with a 32 off 31 balls. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who replaced Ajantha Mendis, picked up 2-46 while Thisara Perera finished with 2-62.