Sri Lanka offers $1 mln bonus to win T20

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan team will be handed a million dollar bonus if they can shake off their reputation as chokers in the final of the World Twenty20 this weekend, the country’s cricket board announced Friday.

The day after the players won a rain-affected semi-final against the West Indies, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said it would treble the money it had previously promised if they return home from Bangladesh with the trophy.

“The Executive Committee of SLC which met at an emergency meeting this morning decided to offer $ 1.5 million (including the original fee of $500,000) to the national team players in the event that they win the final,” the board said in a statement.

Sri Lanka — who will meet in Sunday’s final in Dhaka — were the beaten finalists last time round when they lost to the West Indies even though they were the tournament hosts.

They have also been beaten in the final of the last two 50 over World Cups, meaning they have not won a major trophy since their victory in the 1996 World Cup under skipper Arjuna Ranatunga.

 

Afridi stars in tight win over Sri Lanka

DUBAI: Dashing allrounder Shahid Afridi starred in Pakistan’s exciting three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 international at Dubai stadium on Wednesday.

Afridi scored an unbeaten 20-ball 39, hitting the winning six off the first ball of the final over by paceman Nuwan Kulasekara to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

In all Afridi hit three sixes and two boundaries to help Pakistan overcome a tough challenge from world number one Sri Lanka who had taken the match to the final over with Pakistan needing six runs.

Set a challenging 146 to get, Pakistan lost Ahmed Shehzad (four) in the third over but Mohammad Hafeez (32) and Sharjeel Khan (34) steadied the innings through their 57-run second wicket stand before they lost three wickets in the space of seven runs.

Sharjeel holed out after hitting three fours off 31 balls while Hafeez, who hit two fours and a six in his 27-ball knock, fell leg-before and Umar Akmal was run out for five. It was left to Afridi to see Pakistan through.

Criticised for his recent poor batting form, Afridi hit two towering sixes in Kulasekara’s 16th over to give Pakistan a sniff of victory.

When on 23, Afridi also became the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 50 wickets in all Twenty20 cricket. In all he has 73 wickets in 69 matches.

Afridi said he was delighted to return to his aggressive batting.

“Pakistan won and I’m very happy for that. I have to mention (skipper) Hafeez, who was not feeling well but still he played for the country,” he said at the presentation ceremony.

“It’s nice to bat well, once in a blue moon.”

Sent into bat, Sri Lankan batsmen did not capitalise on the good starts before Mathews (50) and Lahiru Thirimanne (23 not out) added 58 for the fifth wicket stand to take their team to 145-5 in 20 overs.

Mathews hit five boundaries and a six off 34 balls before holing out in the last over. He hit paceman Bilawal Bhatti for three boundaries in one over before sending left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir to long-on ropes to reach his fifty off 32 balls.

Experienced opener Tillakaratne Dilshan managed just seven before he was the first wicket to fall in the second over.

Kusal Perera (15) and skipper Dinesh Chandimal (22) then added 32 for the second wicket but off-spinner Saeed Ajmal put on the initial brakes with 2-35. Kumar Sangakkara scored 21.

Pakistan gave an international debut to 19-year-old Usman Shinwari after the left-arm paceman was drafted into the team as late as Tuesday but the youngster from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bowled only one over, costing nine runs.

Tanvir finished with 2-32 while leg-spinner Shahid Afridi took 1-20 in his four overs.

The second match will also be played in Dubai on Friday. The two teams also play five one-day internationals and three Tests.

Shehzad, Hafeez heroics give Pakistan series win over Zimbabwe

HARARE: Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez shared a 143-run partnership with Ahmed Shehzad and then took three crucial wickets to set up a 19-run win over Zimbabwe in the second Twenty20 international on Saturday, clinching a 2-0 series win for the tourists.

Zimbabwe finished on 160-6 in 20 overs chasing Pakistan’s 179-1.

Shehzad hit 98 not out and Hafeez an unbeaten 54 for the bulk of Pakistan’s total, with their 143-run stand for the second wicket coming off just 86 balls as Zimbabwe’s bowlers were battered for the 14 overs the pair were together.

Hafeez also made a key contribution with the ball to claim the first three Zimbabwe wickets with his offspin, including top-scorer Hamilton Masakadza for 41. Elton Chigumbura hit 35 not out from 19 balls at the end in a losing effort for Zimbabwe, which got slightly closer than the first game on Friday, when the hosts lost by 25 runs.

Zulfiqar Babar took 2-21 to back up Hafeez’s three wickets for Pakistan.

Shehzad won the man of the match and man of the series awards after his second straight half-century of the series.

The opener’s 98 on Saturday came off just 64 balls and he just missed out on a maiden T20 century after needing three runs off the last ball of the innings to go to three figures. He only managed a single having already smashed six fours and six sixes in his brutal knock.

Hafeez’s half-century was off 40 deliveries and the pair carved Zimbabwe’s attack apart from the sixth over after Nasir Jamshed was out for 23 and Pakistan was 36-1.

Seamer Shingirai Masakadza was the only wicket taker with 1-42 and six of Zimbabwe’s seven bowlers went for more than seven runs an over.

Shehzad clubbed sixes in the 19th and 20th overs to race toward his century but was thwarted right at the end when, on 97, he could only clip the ball to midwicket for a single. Pakistan still had enough.

Zimbabwe openers Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza shared a 50-run opening stand, but Hafeez removed Sibanda, captain Brendan Taylor and Masakadza in the space of 45 runs to dent Zimbabwe’s hopes.

Babar dismissed Sean Williams and Timycen Maruma in the space of three balls to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 104-5 and the home team couldn’t recover despite Chigumbura’s two fours and two sixes near the end. The countries also will contest three one-day internationals and two tests on the three-week tour.

Afridi urges fans to appreciate Pakistan’s win over Windies

KARACHI: All-rounder Shahid Afridi Thursday urged Pakistan to savour their one-day and Twenty20 wins over the West Indies and forget allegations of fixing.

Pakistan beat the West Indies 3-1 in the five-match one-day series, and clinched both the Twenty20s on the tour which finished on Sunday.

But the wins were clouded by controversy after British newspaper The Mail on Sunday claimed the one-day matches could be investigated by the sport’s international anti-corruption unit.

Asked about the claims, Afridi said: “I don’t know about any allegations, but I would say ‘Savour the win when you have done well and forget any other thing’.”

Team manager Naveed Cheema denied the allegations.

“These are baseless allegations and anyone can investigate,” said Cheema.

“The discipline of the players was exemplary and that showed on the results.”

Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal also urged people to give Pakistan credit.

“Sometimes they must appreciate us,” he said. “Why people take our wins lightly and allege strongly is unfathomable.”

Pakistani cricket has an unenviable history of corruption and fixing. Three international players served jail terms in England for arranging no-balls to order during the Lord’s Test of 2010.

Afridi said Pakistan’s wins were much-needed after a lacklustre tour of South Africa and a poor Champions Trophy performance earlier in the year.

Pakistan lost all three Tests and the one-day series 3-2 in South Africa.

They crashed out of the first round of the Trophy after losing all three group matches.

“This win was very much needed after what happened in South Africa and England and I am sure this will go a long way in improving the image of the team and the players,” said Afridi, who became the first batsman to hit 400 international sixes.

Pakistan next tour Zimbabwe in August where they play two T20s, three one-dayers and two Tests.

Pakistan triumph over Windies to clinch T20 series

KINGSTOWN: Pakistan held off a desperate late surge by the West Indies to take the second and final Twenty20 international by 11 runs at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent on Sunday.

In restricting the hosts to 124 for nine in reply to their total of 135 for seven, the tourists took the series 2-0 and moved up to second in the international rankings behind Sri Lanka.

West Indies, the world T20 champions, dropped to fourth in what was yet another setback following hard on the heels of the 3-1 loss to the Pakistanis in the preceding one-day international series.

“It was a tough tour and credit must be given to everyone associated with the squad for the success that we have enjoyed here,” said a delighted Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez, who also played a key role with the ball in dismissing the dangerous but out-of-form Chris Gayle cheaply for the second time in two days.

“When we saw the pitch, we knew, with our four spinners, that any total of 135-140 would have given us a chance, and so it worked out.”

An unbeaten 46 by man of the match Umar Akmal and 44 from opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad paced Pakistan to a total that was always going to be challenging on a slow, turning surface ideally suited to the sub-continental team.

Spinners Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree shared five wickets for the West Indies in what would prove to be an ominous precursor of the task the home side had to face in the quest to get a share of the honours.

After looking dead and buried at 17 for four though, the Caribbean side fought back through the middle of their innings thanks to a battling top score of 35 from Dwayne Bravo and an aggressive 28 from Sunil Narine.

However it was Kieron Pollard who brought the match back to life in a pivotal 17th over bowled by Zulfiqar Babar that featured spectacular hitting before the left-arm spinner effectively decided the fate of the match with two wickets in two balls.

Pollard launched two mighty sixes and drilled two fours off the first four deliveries, further enlivening an already boisterous crowd as they sensed the possibility of a miraculous victory.

But Zulfiqar held his nerve and the big-hitter’s attack could not be sustained.

He sliced a catch to deep cover and off the next delivery, Bravo also swung hopefully to be snared at wide long-off.

After his sensational debut in the first match on Saturday when he took three wickets and then hit a six to win the match off the final ball, Zulfiqar was the deserving man of the series as he also contributed useful scores of 14 and 11, both unbeaten, in the two matches.

Any flickering hope that the West Indies had of getting to the target was effectively extinguished in the next over, although there was still more drama.

Captain Darren Sammy heaved at Saeed Ajmal and skied a straightforward catch that was floored in a collision between the bowler and the advancing wicketkeeper Akmal.

His luck ran out three balls later when attempting again to clear the boundary and Shahid Afridi took the catch at long-off.

“When Asian teams come to the Caribbean, maybe we shouldn’t be giving them these types of wickets,” said a disappointed Sammy in reflecting on the pitches not only for the T20s but also for the preceding ODIs in Guyana and St Lucia.

“It suited them more than it helped us. At the end of the day though, they played the better cricket.”

Tino Best blasted a couple of sixes that still kept the West Indian faithful hoping against hope.

But left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir, whose early burst accounted for Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels to catches at the wicket, ensured that Pakistan did not completely fall apart in the final over of the match.

Teams:

West Indies – D. Sammy (captain), C. Gayle, J. Charles, M. Samuels, L. Simmons, D.J. Bravo, K. Pollard, D. Sammy, C. Barnwell, S. Narine, T. Best.

Pakistan – Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Hammad Azam, Umar Amin, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali.

Umpires: G Brathwaite and J Wilson

TV umpire: P Nero

Match referee: D Boon

Reserve umpire: D Butler

Shahid Afridi, Babar heroics seal thrilling win for Pakistan

KINGSTOWN: Thirty-four-year debutant Zulfiqar Babar took three key wickets then struck a six off the final ball of the match to give Pakistan a two-wicket victory over West Indies in the first Twenty20 international on Saturday.

Babar dismissed Marlon Samuels (25), Lendl Simmons (6) and Dwayne Bravo (25) to finish with three for 23 from his four overs in West Indies’ 152 for seven at Arnos Vale Ground in St Vincent.

The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals in their run-chase but were always up with the required rate and, with the scores tied and one ball to go, Babar launched Samuels over the mid-off boundary to seal the win.

Kieron Pollard (49 not out) showed a welcome return to form as he anchored the West Indies innings after they had won the toss and elected to bat.

Pakistan lost early wickets in their reply, but Umar Amin, also playing his first T20 international, smashed 47 in 34 balls before he was stumped off the bowling of Samuels.

Shahid Afridi took Pakistan close, scoring 46 from just 27 deliveries, including launching his 400th six in all international cricket.

With Pakistan needing six off the last over, Samuels took his team to the brink of a super over, before bowling a full toss that Babar smashed for six from the final delivery.

“It was a great effort from the players, I was really happy to see the desire to win and really happy with the contributions of the debutants and Shahid Afridi. It was a tough chase, we had to be positive,” Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said.

The second and final match of the series will be played at the same venue on Sunday.

Teams:

West Indies: D. Sammy (captain), C. Gayle, J. Charles, M. Samuels, L. Simmons, D.J. Bravo, K. Pollard, D. Sammy, S. Narine, T. Best, S. Gabriel.

Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Hammad Azam, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan.

Umpires: G Brathwaite and P Nero TV umpire: J Wilson Match referee: D Boon Reserve umpire: D Butler