Pakistan win international cricket title after 17 years


London : Pakistan won an international cricket tournament after 17 years when they outplayed Sri Lanka by eight wickets to become World Twenty20 champions at the Lord’s here Sunday.

Support TwoCircles

It was way back in 1992 when charismatic Imran Khan came back from retirement to lead Pakistan to ODI World Cup victory Down Under. Younis Khan Sunday made sure that his name will be taken in the same breath as Imran, leading the underdogs to title triumph.

There was not even synthetic excitement as Pakistan planned the downfall of Sri Lanka and executed it brilliantly, chasing down 139-run target coolly with eight balls to spare.

The victory will give the strife-torn nation something to cheer and a heart to get back into the mainstream of international cricket in a big way, though they may not be able to host international teams in the near future. The jubilant scenes at the home of cricket, Lord’s, clearly exemplified the spirit of the Pakistanis who have not played any worthwhile cricket for over a year with a majority of nations refusing to visit them.

Sri Lankans were up against a gritty Pakistan who did not want to let go winning the second Twenty20 final, having narrowly lost the first two years ago against India in South Africa.

Shahid Afridi was the man of the moment for Pakistan. The maverick all-rounder first produced four tight overs, taking his only wicket off his last delivery, and then paced his knock of 40-ball 54 (two sixes and two fours) to see the side through.

Afridi then struck a match-winning unbroken 79-run partnership with former captain Shoaib Malik (24, 22balls, 2×4) for the third wicket.

Kumar Sangakkara decided to set the target on winning the toss, but their innings was soon in disarray, losing their top four batsmen in the first six overs, Andul Razzaq claiming three of the wickets.

The rot set in the moment in-form Tillakaratne Dilshan was surprised by a well-directed bouncer as his mistimed pull ended in an easy catch behind the square.

It was eventually left to Sangakkara’s well compiled unbeaten 64 and his seventh-wicket 68-run partnership with Angelo Mathews gave their team a fighting score.

Kamran Akmal (37) and teenager Shahzaid Hasan (19) gave Pakistan a rollicking start while Afridi’s blitzkrieg, and Malik’s 24 not out took them home.