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Pakistan keeps their champions tag intact

Pakistan kept their reputation as the World Champions while defeating Sri Lanka by 52 runs in their only Twenty20 International worked off under lights at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo yesterday.

Pakistan successfully defended their total of 172 runs as they dismissed the home side for just 120 runs from 18.1 overs.

Even then they were under tremendous pressure at one stage with skipper Kumar Sangakkara threatening to take the game away from them.

The stylish left hander batting at number four showed promise with a 31 ball 38 which was studded with one six and two boundaries. Along with Chamara Kapugedera they set about their task in style as Sri Lanka remained well on course to a morale boosting victory.

However the dismissal of Sangakkara in the 14th over certainly brought a dramatic change to the game with Pakistan crawling their way back into the game through some accurate bowling and splendid fielding.

In fact Sri Lanka lost their last seven wickets for the addition of just 20 runs within the space of 29 deliveries. Opening bowler Naveed Ul Hasan and Saeed Ajmal claimed three wickets each with Mohammed Aamer, Ifthikao Rao and Shahid Afridi providing the back up support.

Sri Lanka of course got off to a flying start during their run chase as they reached 80 for 3 at the half way stage of the innings. The new opening combination of Mahela Udawatte and Sanath Jayasuriya provided some early fireworks before both departed in the space of a couple of deliveries.

Veteran Jayasuriya threatened to take complete control of the situation by hoisting two sixes and stroking a boundary before he top edged Mohammed Aamer in the fifth over. Sri Lanka suffered another blow when Mahela Jayawardena made his exit in the ninth over.

The Pakistan innings was built around a captainís knock from Shahid Afridi who made exactly fifty runs from 37 deliveries inclusive of two sixes and four boundaries. The 29 year old dashing right hander leading the side for the first time rose to the big occasion after they had lost two early wickets.

In fact Pakistan had a dreadful start to their innings while losing opener Kamran Akmal in the very first ball after they had won the toss and elected to bat first. Nuwan Kulasekera was responsible for the initial damage that put the opposition under pressure from the start.

However Shahid Afridi joined Umar Akmal and the pair steadied the innings with a fourth wicket partnership of 66 runs from just 43 balls. Afridi played the dominant role as he took most of the strike against the seamers and the spinners.

In contrast Akmal was prepared to play the supporting role after Imran Nazir had survived an early chance where he was dropped by Lasith Malinga off Thilan Thushara in the second over of the innings.

Nevertheless Lasith Malinga made amends to a certain extent by removing Shoaib Malik with his fifth delivery. The speedster completed an excellent opening spell with his two overs costing him only eight runs.

Even then Pakistan were able to collect a good 47 runs from the last five overs thanks to a useful contribution of 25 runs from Abdur Razzaq who put on 33 runs for the unfinished sixth wicket along with Misbah Ul Haq.



LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
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