The Reuters global sports blog
Pakistan bowled aggressively and batted with supreme calm to seal a convincing eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final of the World Twenty20 on Sunday.
Shahid Afridi’s finely judged 54 saw them home with eight balls to spare after three wickets from Abdul Razzaq had limited Sri Lanka to 138 from their 20 overs.
Pakistan’s superb start with the ball almost decided things by itself, with Tillakaratne Dilshan’s duck setting the tone, but captain Kumar Sangakkara played beautifully to rescue the innings, scoring 64 to see his side to a total that was at least competitive.
Pakistan batted sensibly during the power play to put themselves in a winning position at 63-1 at the start of the 10th over and they made it home quite comfortably.
Tillakartne Dilshan gave Sri Lanka a total and West Indies were undone by an astonishing first over that saw them lose three wickets…. There’s no coming back from that against a team that bowls as well as Sri Lanka. What an extraordinary tournament this has been, to provide something unexpected almost every game…
Pakistan bowled superbly to clinch an outstanding victory over favourites South Africa on Wednesday and reach the World Twenty20 final.
So, more disappointment for South Africa at the semi-final stage and further evidence that Umar Gul (the heroics of Afridi notwithstanding) is the best “death” bowler in this tournament. His spell at the end of the South Africa innings was beautifully delivered and certainly too good for the South Africans … and once again, it was the penultimate over that effectively decided this contest.
Now that India’s explosive batsman Virender Sehwag has been ruled out of the World Twenty20 with a shoulder injury, at least the media have one less thing to obsess about.
The journalists travelling with the team in England had been trying to find out why Sehwag did not play, and more importantly did not open the batting, in the warm-up games or the first group fixture against Bangladesh.
In an ideal world Twenty20, cricket’s newest and shortest format, should be hailed as the perfect way forward for a game still played by barely 10 teams at the highest level.
The World Twenty20 which begins in England on Friday is expected to draw huge crowds and television audiences, pointing to the galloping popularity of the three-hour game, the sporting equivalent of a Hollywood action flick rather than the Bollywood drama of a five-day test.
Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds is being sent home from the World Twenty20 tournament in England for disciplinary reasons, Cricket Australia (CA) has said.
CA chief executive James Sutherland told a hastily-arranged news conference in Melbourne broadcast on national television that Symonds had been ordered home for alcohol related issues.
If the result of a cricket one-day international is forgotten by most fans within a week the shelf life of Twenty20 memories must be measured in Mayfly proportions.
However, that does not mean that there is no value in the smash and crash of cricket’s newest format. Quite the opposite.