It would have been heartbreak for the Pakistani supporters, present at Lord’s this Sunday, had Pakistan lost another T20 final. It would have been a big shock for all Pakistani Cricket fans worldwide. However, history did not repeat itself as Pakistan shrugged of last T20 World Cup defeat to notch up a convincing win against Sri Lanka, who had through the whole tournament not lost a single match. In fact, Sri Lanka had the better of Pakistan in a Super 8 Game in this tournament. Pakistan played the role of giant killer, as they beat South Africa in the Semifinals and then steam rolled over Sri Lanka in the Men’s T20 World Cup Final.
It has been a sort of remarkable turnaround for Pakistani cricket, after so many incidents happening in their country and cricket being banned in their soil. Pakistan thus became the only team to have beaten both Sri Lanka and South Africa in this World Cup. A remarkable achievement indeed, considering the fact that both these teams have been in prime form and played magnificent cricket, except during the crunch time when they faced Pakistan in a do or die encounter. Perhaps the moral of the story for this edition of T20 World Cup will be that, to win some you need to loose some and play well when it matters.
Winning the toss Sri Lanka opted to bat first, as they wanted to set a decent total for the Pakistani team and put them under pressure. Their tactic soon backfired as the Pakistani youngster Mohammad Aamer got the better of Dilshan in the very first over of the match. With their best batsman in the tournament gone for a duck, Sri Lanka lacked ideas to come back into the match. The change in the batting line up also backfired as Jehan Mubarak was snapped up by Abdur Razaq, ex-ICL player for the second duck of the innings.
Pakistan now had a firm control on the match. Sanath Jayasuriya, the Sri Lankan veteran with a whole lot of experience, tried to steer away Sri Lanka from this position but failed to do so after scoring just 17 runs to become Razaq’s second victim. Things got worse as Jayawardene got out in quick succession to Razaq. The only person left defending the Sri Lankan fort was their captain Kumara Sangakara. The Pakistani bowlers were unrelenting and did not loose focus in the match as Sri Lanka were left tottering at 70-6 after 13 overs.
The rescue act for Sri Lanka started with the partnership between Sangakara and Angelo Matthews, as they took the fight back to Pakistan. Sangakara remained unbeaten on 64 and Matthews scored valuable 35 run with both standing their ground until the end of this innings, as Sri Lanka managed to score 138 runs with an unbroken 68 runs partnership between these two Lankan lions. The score seemed a little less for the high profile Pakistani batting line up, but it still gave hope to Sri Lanka for putting up a fight in the second half of the match.
Coming into bat with a target of 139, the Pakistani openers started cautiously. With the total well entrenched in their minds, the Pakistani openers played normal cricketing shots as Sri Lanka were left searching for answers to get a break through. Sangakara tried six different bowlers in the first six overs of the innings to find a break through that never happened. Pakistani openers on the other hand did not spare an inch for the Lankans to come back into the match. It was then left to the experience of Jayasuriya to get the first wicket for Sri Lanka and affect a batting collapse for Pakistan.
However, the duo of Mallik and Afridi played a brand of cautious cricket unlike to their reputation, to take Pakistan closer to the target as Pakistan reached the 100 mark within the 15th over. With things, getting out of control Sangakara tried to use the experience of Malinga, Muralitharan, and Menids to restrict the flow of runs. However, nothing seemed to work this time as some magnificent hitting from Afridi and an unbroken partnership between both of them saw Pakistan to their second major title, the first one coming in 1992 when they won the 50 over version in Australia.
The win was dedicated to Bob Woolmer, the former Pakistan and South Africa coach, as Pakistan did not get twice unlucky. The Lankans had themselves to blame, as they never looked in control of the match. Pakistan with this victory has proved once again that they cannot be taken for granted in International Cricket. When Pakistan plays good cricket the world has to stand up and salute them.
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