Dubai-ICC News, Nov 11, 2011: Leg-spinner Shahid Afridi capped an excellent return to international cricket with three wickets as Pakistan thumped Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the first day-night match here on Friday.
Afridi took 3-27 in his first match since returning from a six-month exile, helping Pakistan dismiss Sri Lanka for a paltry 131 in 40.3 overs before Younis Khan and Imran Farhat hit fifties to anchor the chase at Dubai stadium.
Pakistan lost Mohammad Hafeez (five) in the second over of their innings but Farhat added 103 for the second wicket stand with Younis Khan (56 not out) to ensure a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Farhat hit leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna for his seventh boundary to reach his ninth one-day fifty but with only 17 needed he was trapped leg-before wicket by paceman Suranga Lakmal for 50. Younis, whose fifty was his 45th in one-dayers, took the team past the target in just 21.5 overs. He hit seven boundaries during his 57-ball knock.
Pakistan were on course for a comprehensive win thanks in large part to Afridi, who finished with 3-27 and was ably supported by Saeed Ajmal (2-21) and Mohammad Hafeez (2-24) as Sri Lanka lost their last seven wickets for 54 after opting to bat. Dinesh Chandimal top-scored with 28 while opener Upul Tharanga (25) and Mahela Jayawardene (24) were other notable scorers but none went on to make a big score against some lethal spin bowling.
Sri Lanka lost Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over of the match, bowled by paceman Aizaz Cheema for four. With their captain back in the pavilion, Sri Lanka did not recover as wickets continued to fall, in-form Kumar Sangakkara falling for five after struggling through 24 deliveries.
Chandimal and Tharanga added 30 for the third wicket before Pakistan’s spinners ran riot, grabbing the last seven wickets for a mere 54 runs. Afridi, who only last month decided to go back on a decision to retire from international cricket in protest at being sacked as one-day captain, struck in his first over of the match.
Chandimal hit him for a six off his fourth ball, but the leg-spinner had him leg-before the very next ball. Chandimal hit two sixes and a four off 31 balls. The 31-year-old Afridi then dismissed Prasanna (five) and Lasith Malinga (11) during his incisive 9.3 overs spell.
Jayawardene and Tharanga were the others to provide some resistance but they too departed to spinners. The second match will also be played in Dubai on Monday. The remaining matches are scheduled for Dubai (November 18), Sharjah (November 20) and Abu Dhabi (November 23).
The teams will also play a Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi on November 25.