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Erratic Pak bag important win

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February 26, 2011


22:42  Afridi's bowlers do the trick:  

Scorecard:

What worked for Pakistan in the final analysis was that they have such a balanced attack that there are six strike bowlers to accommodate in 50 overs.

This meant once the Sri Lankan top order was removed, there was no way the middle order could consolidate as there was a *proper* full-time strike bowler bowling at either end all the time.

Chamara Silva, with his turgid batting, stiffled the Lankan chase in the middle overs. Sanga tried to break out of jail by timing his batting PP well, but fell victim to the mounting pressure.

Once he went, there was just not enough ammo for Sri Lanka to break free in the home stretch, especially after Akhtar and co came back on. Silva's late charge was never going to be enough.

Pakistan will also do well to note how close Sri Lanka came without really ever being in the game at any point. That happened because Afridi messed up his batting powerplay and Pakistan ended up well short of what they were capable of by the 34th over.

Nonetheless, Pakistan's joie de vivre was hard to ignore, despite their rusty and erratic display.


Overall, a scrappy affair, but a much-needed fillip to this world cup. That's it for tonight. Over now to India v England tomorrow.

22:27  Scorecard:

Chamara Silva, who with his turgid batting single-handedly stiffled the Sri Lankan chase in the middle overs, tries to redeem himself with a late charge.

He did not score a boundary in his first 65 balls. In his next 12 balls he has hit 5 fours.

But Shoaib's pace is too much for Thissara in the 46th over at the other end and SL lose one more wicket.

finally Silva also falls to Rehman for 57 off 79. he is not going to forget this match in any great hurry.
22:18  Scorecard:

Lanka got three fours in that Rehman over that cost 14 in total.

Chamara Silva gets two fours in that over.

Despite the urgency that Angeloand Silva have shown, this one looks is still in PAkistan' bag.

With seven overs remaining Akhtar will be back on any time and the other two pacers also have enough overs to stiffle any late charge from LAnka.

21:58  Scorecard:

Pakistan have missed so many run outs today and have been so bad on the field generally, that any good team would have put the match out of their reach any other day.

Lanka need 89 off 48 now, and it is well impossible considering they have Silva at the crease at 29 off 65 balls without a single boundary.

Looks like the only way he will get a four is if the Pakistani fielders kick it all the way to the boundary!

Angelo at the other end is throwing everything at the ball, having gotten to11 off 14.

This match is all but over.
21:49  Scorecard:

In the 39th over, left-armer Rehman spun one away and across the face of new man Angelo's bat, and Kamran went up instinctively for a caught behind appeal.

Replays showed Kamran glance at the leg umpire and he too nodded in the affirmative. But the main umpire gave it not out, and Afridi took it upstairs.

With no Hotspot available, all the third umpire had was a noise after the ball had passed the bat and there was no conclusive evidence. NOT OUT.


21:45  Scorecard:

Like That commentator would have said, it all happened here in the batting PP.

It was the sort of period where Pakistan first switched off, making the cynics go up with their hands up and cry out loud: Fixed!

The first four overs of the PP saw 4 missed chances, an array of extras, and an irrational review appeal.

Then in the last PP over, they switched it back on as quickly as they had shut off, with Afridi storming in at 100 kph, pitching it on leg and turning it into Sanga. The Lankan skipper was beaten off the first two balls, and slap-swept the third ball between square leg and mid wicket. Umar Gul stormed in from mid wicket, threw himself on the turf, slid headfirst and saved a sure four.

The next ball, Afridi took a bit of pace off the ball, and Sanga was onto it ashade quicker and skied it to long on where Ahmad slid in to take a comfortable catch.

Afridi also completes the all round treble of 3000 runs, 300 wickets and 100 catches.

Batting PP tally: 35/1
21:31  Scorecard:

Sometime ago, during a tour of Australia Kamran Akmal's keeping touched abysmal lows that the team management thought of dropping him, sparking a two man rebellion by the Akmal brothers.

In the second batting powerplay over, one from Rehman spun and bounced, beating Sanga on the leg side, and Kamran missed a difficult but not impossible gather. Soon, Rehman did an encore, and this time the ball was well within Akmal's reach. Again the keeper madea hash of it, spilling the ball and taking the bails off with a handful of thin air.

This double miss was bookended by two dropped skiers -- one each off Sanga and Silva.

Had every chance Pakistan missed in the last 10 balls been a wicket, Sri Lanka would have been 8/150!!

Gul comes on at the other end for the third PP over, and Sangakkara thanks the Pakistanis with a Sehwagesque slash over the third man fence for a six.

Are these chances going to be what SL needed to get this chase back on track?


21:22  Scorecard:

As we go into the final third of the match, here's something from Gayle on Twitter. Hope that doesn't keep him from firing in the next match.


If you are also a football fan who has sacrificed your dose of EPL to stay on with cricket, Man U are 1-0 up at half time against Wigan.

Back in Colombo, Sanga has taken the batting PP in the 34th over. But is Silva 15 (46) the right man in the middle? Cricket should probably have a substitution option under which for example in this match, Angelo will replace Chamara Silva for the batting powerplay, and go back to the hut after giving some impetus to the innings.

No?
21:08  Scorecard:

The asking rate is now 8. Not a big deal in the last 20 overs in this T20 age. But the problem with Sri Lanka is that they dont have the wickets in hand for the final push. Sanga and Silva have to bat for at least 10 more overs and also increase their scoring rate at the same time.

Another advantage for Pakistan is that Afridi has marshaled his bowling resources very judiciously. Every one barring Akhtar has been used sparingly, and he can turn to either his spinners or pacers depending on the situation in the overs to come.

After 32, Sri Lanka 130/4
21:01  Scorecard:

What those flurry of wickets has done is ensure that Afridi can through with his tweakers who have also incidentally taken three of the four wickets to fall.

Of the 20 overs needed from the three spinners, they are now through with 13 by the 30th over.

Sangakkara has gotten set and he will need to bat till the end if Sri Lanka are to get to the end of this chase.

Also would be interesting to see how Sanga, the shrewdest captain around in the business, uses the batting powerplay in this difficult chase.
20:47  Image: Thilan Samaraweera is stumped by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off a delivery from Afridi. (Reuters)
20:36  Scorecard:

Samaraweera stumped off Afridi!!

In the 22nd over, Afridi pitched one short of good length and new man samaraweera deemed it fit to reach the pitch of the ball. But in the process, his momentum dragged his back leg out of the crease. He missed the ball and before he could push his leg into the crease Kamran Akmal whipped off the bails.

Image: Afridi celebrates after dismissing Tillakaratne Dilshan. (Reuters)

20:24  Scorecard:

Afridi brought himself into the attack after the fall of that first wicket and sent the fourth ball straight and low. Dilshan shaped up for the cut, saw it was the wrong choice of shot and carried on with the shot, in an attempt to get out of trouble.

But he could only get it on to the stumps.

Shoaib Akhtar had come on at the other end, and Jayawardene joined Sanga.

In the 21st over, Akhtar got one to ever so slightly swing in the air and Jayawardene played for the ball that would have come straight of the pitch.

But the ball seamed in off the wicket after pitching short of good length and went through Jayawardene' bat and pad to hit the top of the middle stump.

Pakistan have firmly taken the initiative from Lanka here, and it is up to Sanga now to play the long innings and get his other batsmen to play around him...
20:23  

Scorecard:

Tharanga falls to Hafeez!

That was as against-the-run-of-play as it could get.

The fast bowlers had done a bulk of the toil in these first 15 overs, but the spinner takes the wicket. And Dilshan was the batsman who looked like he would fall any moment, and Tharange goes.

Hafeez, with his trademark pause at the bowling crease gets one that stops after pitching, Tharanga looked to drive it through the offside, but only manages to scoop a low catch to Afridi in the covers.

So, finally Pakistan get the reward for all their hard work. Sri Lanka were looking like they had weathered the opening storm, but this wicket will set the battle back to square one again. That was also a fitting end to an attritional first 15 overs.

Image: Afridi is congratulated by teammates after taking a brilliant catch of the bowling of Hafeez to dismiss Tharanga. (Reuters)

19:40  Scorecard:

Rameez Raza proves that there is a little bit of Shastri in every commentator.

Gul was fractionally off the mark around the off stump, and Dilshan pounced on it, thumping it through square for four. And Raza says: 'It went like a bullet'

Gul then pitched one short and outside off, Dilshan slashed it again and got it over the lone slip for four.

A no ball and four wides follow and Sri Lanka get 16 off that Gul over.
19:33  Scorecard:

Looking at Pakistan's opening three, you get the feeling they are bowling on a totally different pitch from what the Sri Lankan quicks used.

Usually, the one change bowler helps the batting side release some pressure, but not Umar Gul. This Pakistan attack is not very much unlike the Australian attack. They might not have the red hot pace of Tait-Lee-Johnson, but they are a disciplined unit that does not give any quarter to the batsmen.

A couple of misfields in this opening period has given the Lankans a bit of relief now and then, but apart from that it has been Pakistan's period in this mandatory powerplay. If only they could manage to get a wicket, they will be well and truly on top.

The bowling powerplay taken in the 11th over and Mohd. Hafeez comes on. What can Sri Lanka do in these five overs?
19:24  Scorecard:

Umar Gul replaces Razzaq as Akhtar continues into his fifth over and keeps the pressure on -- straight and back of length.

The onus is now on the Lankan openers. It is up to them to find a way past this opening spell of three-pronged pace from Pakistan. So far they haven't had much by way of answer.

A wicket now -- and it is more likely to fall than not -- and Pakistan will be firmly on top in the mandatory powerplay.
19:14  Scorecard:

Afridi has both his catchers in front of the wicket. This has guaranteed that the Lankans have been starved off their single.

But on the flip side, dont know how much of a good idea that is, especially considering these two bowlers have been getting the ball to hurry on to the batsmen and there have been quite a few edges and miscues so far.

He is also doing a Ponting, changing his field almost everyball.

First the goof up with the powerplay, and now this. Afridi needs to get his act together.


19:06  Scorecard:

Pakistan have gotten things underway with purpose, and there is a spring in their step.

Akhtar and Razzaq have opened well -- they have kept it just a bit short of the length and have cramped the batsmen for room. Razzaq is getting good bounce off the wicket for the kind of pace he is bowling at. Akhtar has been more threatening, forcing edges and mishits as he gets the ball to hurry on to the batsmen.

Dilshan especially has been kept quite subdued by these two.
18:49  Scorecard:

Pakistan open their defence of 277 with Shoaib Akhtar as Sri Lanka open with Upul Tharanga and Dilshan.

How much can these two can get in the mandatory powerplay will set the tone for the chase.

Even Akhtar with his consistently 140 kmph+ first over could not get the ball to bounce over waist height. But he has pace on his side and the Openers will take some time getting used to it.

2/0 after the first over.
18:48  

Scorecard

Sri Lanka are ready to get their reply underway with Tharanga and Dilshan opening.

Shoaib Akhtar will open the bowling for Pakistan.

18:26  

Scorecard:

Pakistan finish at 277. This is a good 20 short of what they would have wanted, and more importanty at least 40 runs less than what they should have ideally reached, considering the kind of platform Younis and Misbah laid.

Afridi delayed taking the batting powerplay till the 43rd over and Pakistan paid the price for leaving it too late. Had he taken it in the, say, 35th over, who knows what kind of a launchpad Younis-Misbah would have laid and how much freedom Akmal-Af-Raz would have had to go after the Sri Lankan bowlers outside of Murali-Herath.

The failure of the three hitters also meant that Misbah, who carried his bat through for a sedate 83, could not unleash his big shots at the other end.

That last mentioned pair were the best bowlers on a pitch that had nothing for Sri Lanka's trundling medium pacers.

Murali bowled like the magician that he is, restricting the top order in his first spell and conceding only 5 off his two powerplay overs in his last spell.

What Murali's genius did was give Herath all the freedom to attack at the other end, flighting the ball with good drift and getting it to bite the wicket and turn more than it would have had he had to bowl flatter.

Herath teased the Pakistan batsmen and they gave him two wickets, trying to respond.

Had it been a football match, Murali's sheet would have read 2 goals and 2 assists.

Overall, Pakistan laboured a lot to get themselves to a position of strength by the 34th over, only to throw it all away in the last 16, off which they got only 107.

I dont think 277 is enough against this Sri Lankan line up on this pitch on paper, but this Pakistan side has pulled off stranger things.

Stand by for the Sri Lankan innings.

Image: Misbah-ul-Haq hits a shot. (Reuters)

18:01  Scorecard:

This is what happens when you time your powerplays wrong.

Afridi took it at a time when it was redundant and heaped that strange 'powerplay pressure' on his batsmen. They would have probably scored more had it been the regular field set up.

They scored 36 off their 5 PP overs. Poor returns, espcially with Afridi and a well-set Misbah at the crease. Here's the break up: 2, 11, 3, 5 and 15.

The two and three came off the only bowler in this bowling line up capable of delivering such figures, Murali. The five came off a great death over from Kulasekara, who looked to bowl a yorker every ball. Afridi could just get one four off that over.

Pakistan has handed the initiative on a platter to Sri Lanka, who gobled it up with glee.
17:51  Scorecard:

Pakistan have all but made a hash of this.

Beautiful death over bowling by Kulasekara!!

He kept it simple and fired all his six balls on the blockhole, one of which was a slower ball as Afridi looked to make room.

The last ball was fractionally overpitched and was dispatched for four.

A great over nonetheless, five off it, Pak 245/5 after 47.
17:48  Scorecard:

Murali take a bow! Five runs off two powerplay overs and the wicket of Umar Akmal. Murali finishes with 2/35 off his 10. His first spell put the skids on the Pakistan top order and forced Akmal to commit an error at the other end against Herath. If this was football, Murali's sheet would have read two goals and two assists (Herath's two wickets,which came when Murali was bowling at the other end.)

In passing, he also goes past Akram and takes his place behind McGrath as the second most successful world cup bowler with is 56th wicket.
17:42  Scorecard:

Second powerplay over: 11 off it. it had a run out chace, misbah's third four of his innings, and umar's first.




17:38  Scorecard:

Pak score two runs off the first powerplay over from Murali! Easily eight less what a PP over should have ideally yielded.


17:36  Scorecard:

Powerplay taken, two overs before it would have automatically come on. -10 for Afridi.

224/4 after 43. Are Pakistan set to mess this up big time? They were 170/3 after 34. The last 9 overs hav gotten them 54 @ 6 an over.

Poor returns if you ask me.

In the previous over, Akmal takes a couple of bunny skips into the middle of the pitch and the umpires have a heart attack. Over reaction, this...

Seems like guarding an underprepared wicket has been added to the umpires' responsibility, since some of their work load has been reduced by UDRS.
17:28  Scorecard:

218/4 in 42.

Umar, I think, is still the kind of batsman who needs time to get is eye in -- more Kohli than Yuvi. Misbah now needs to open up. He is well set, and has the shots too. So, if he can step on the pedal, that will give Umar the 8-10 balls he needs to settle down.


17:28  

Scorecard:

You've got to give it to Herath. Even into the slog overs, he persists with flighting it (unlike most other spinners we are used to seeing), and it pays off.

Younis scoops it to fine leg.

Okay then, Umar Akmal is in (Would it not have been better if Razzaq or Afridi himself had come in?)

Either way, standby now for a loud noise -- it could be an explosion or implosion. Only with Pakistan.

Image: Pakistan's Younus Khan raises his bat as he celebrates scoring 50 runs. (Reuters)

17:19  Scorecard:

209/3 after 40. A typical late 1990s type scorecard. The least Pak will be looking from now on is 300. Anything less will be not doing justice to their potential.

And, Afridi has now virtually made the powerplay redundant.

If at the end of the day, Sri Lanka overhaul whatever target Pakistan sets them with 3-4 overs to spare, it will because Afridi messed the batting PP.


17:11  Scorecard:

The only advantage I see in Pakistan delaying the powerplay even now is that they have whittled down the combined overs remaining from Murali and Herath to 5.

But if they still decide to sit on taking it, it is then out of sheer greed, or irrational fear for Murali-Herath.

38 gone now, 193/3.

Sorry to bang on about it, but Akmal-Afridi-Razzaq DONT NEED a powerplay to find the ropes, these two DO.

Also interesting to see now will be how Afridi shuffles the order now if a wicket falls.

Is he going to send U Akmal as onthe team sheet or is he going to promote himself or razzaq?
17:03  Scorecard:

Afridi decides to save the powerplay for a bit later. It is now over number 37, and no powerplay still.

On Powerplays, at a time when captains were still figuring out how best to use it, ex-Rediff ace Prem Panicker was the first to explain that it makes a lot of sense to take it around the 35th over and using it as a firm launchpad for the last 10 overs. This has been endorsed later by Professor Martin Crowe and more recently Harsha Bhogle.

Murali-Herath have continued without success and Afridi seems to have forgotten about the batitng powerplay. Seriously, Razzaq, U Akmal and Afridi dont need field restrictions to score, do they? These two at the crease are the ones that need field restrictions to find the boundary!!!
16:51  Scorecard:

We are into the final third of the match and it is now advantage Pakistan, at 170/3.

A rare boundary (only the third in a partnership of 64.) also released a bit of pressure.

Sri Lanka have a lot of work to do in the last 16 overs now. The advantage with having Umar Akmal, Afridi and Razzaq is it reduces the probability of the lower order misfiring. Even on a bad, if only one of them fires, it will put the match beyond the opposition.


16:46  Scorecard:

Younis and Misbah have taken the partnership to 56 off 72.

We are now a couple of overs away from the ball change. Will Afridi take the batting powerplay with the sedate Younis-Misbah at the crease or will he wait for a wicket to fall?

Watching Sri Lanka bowl reminds one of the importance of balance in the bowling attack.

Of the top eight teams, the bowling attacks of England, New Zealand West Indies and Sri Lanka seem to be slightly off balance. They all lack a third strike bowler. So for the opposition, it is a matter of playing out the 20 overs from the two dangerous bowlers and then capitalise in the remaining 30 overs.

On the other hand, Australia, India and Pakistan don't give you that option. They all can deliver 30 overs of bowling difficult to get away with and even for the remaining 20 overs have options that are pretty competitive.

The major surprise in the bowling department this world cup has been delivered by the till-now-most-predictable side: South Africa.

Three spinners in a south african bowling line up is as rare as three competent ministers in an Indian cabinet. And their pace options are Steyn and Morkel. (A lot of people were shocked by the benching of Tsotsobe, who they rate highly. Throughout India's tour of South Africa, where Tsotsobe was a pain in India's neck, I always thought he would be slaughtered if he comes to the subcontinent.)

So, dont be surprised if you see Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa in the semi-finals. These four are till now the teams with the best and most balanced bowling attacks.
16:35  Image: Sri Lanka's captain and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara stumps Kamran Akmal off the bowling of Rangana Herath. (Reuters)
16:33  Image: Sri Lanka's captain and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara stumps Kamran Akmal off the bowling of Rangana Herath. (Reuters)
16:17  

Scorecard:

Herath gets Akmal stumped!

That dismissal was a superb example of bowling on Sri Lankan wickets, and also of Pakistan's rustiness at the top of the order, despite their nitro-booster fitted lower order.

The Lankans had tied up Misbah-Akmal and Herath came on and tossed one up. There was a bit of drift on the ball too as Akmal, dancing down, missed the line and took a huge a swipe at fistful of the Colombo air. Sanga did the rest.

Now Younis Khan has joined Misbah, and Pakistan need these two to take them to the 35th over, after which their boom-boomers can take over.

Image: Muttiah Muralitharan runs out Mohammad Hafeez. (Reuters)

15:50  

Scorecard:

That was a typical Pakistan moment. Or an Inzamam moment to be precise.

Among the first things they teach you in school is that if the ball goes behind the batsmen, the running will be on the non-striker's call.

Murali came on in the 14th over, Hafeez swept one to fine leg and was looking at the ball. By the time the fielder had picked up the ball, Akmal had made his ground at the striker's end.

With both batsmen at the striker's end, there was more comedy to follow as Sangakkara fired his throw to Murali wide. Thankfully mid-on picked it up and threw it back to Murali who whipped the bails off. All this while the batsmen were arguing who should walk.

When they couldn't come to a conclusion, the umpire sends Hafeez packing.

A promising partnership comes to a comic end.

While on run outs, Mande and Manu mix up their run-outs and Ranauts...

On Silly Point

Image: Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera (L) celebrates with Mahela Jayawardene after dismissing Pakistan's Ahmed Shehzad. (Reuters)

15:32  Scorecard:

Hafeez an Akmal have accelerated here as Sri Lanka take the bowling powerplay immediately after the mandatory overs.

The bowling is gentle medium pace, which the Sri Lankans are keeping straight and in the good length. The two batsmen have mixed caution with aggrsssion.

There has been nothing on the pitch so far. So, the bowlers have no option other than to bowl the way they have been.

Murali comes on in the 14th over.

Here's Mande, Manu, Kangana and run-outs: Silly Point, rediff.com's cricket show that has been making waves on the Internet. Enjoy!


15:05  Scorecard:

Hafeez and Akmal have been busy ever since they came together at 28/1.

There was a six and a four off Kulasekara for Hafeez and in the meanwhile Akmal has been helping himself to boundaries on either side of the Hafeez assault.


14:55  Scorecard:

This is the over Hafeez caught up with Shehzad. There was also a beautiful cover drive for a boundary off Kulasekara.

Perera, in the next over, pitched one just short of good length and got it to lift marginally. Shehzad played at it away from his body and managed to edge it to Sanga.

28/1 now off 5.3.

Kamran Akmal is the new man in.
14:46  Welcome to the big big match.

This is one of the matches that will decide who tops the group among Aus, Pak, SL.

Sri Lanka have Renganna Herath and Murali, and are without Malinga and Mendis.

Ahmad Shehzad has been the dominant opener so far.