June 21, 2009

Pakistan lifts T20 World Cup cricket

Back-to-form Shahid Afridi's brilliant 54 steered Pakistan to an 8-wicket win over Sri Lanka Sunday in the Twenty20 World Cup cricket final at London's Lords.

The victory helped the team regain its international cricket stature after years in a slump. Pakistan faces growing political instability brought on brought on by the Taliban insurgency and severe economic problems.

The all-rounder Afridi, who had been out of form in recent months, has been the main architect of his team's comeback in the tournament, culminating in his being chosen as Man of the Match in the final.

The team lost only two wickets with eight balls to spare to go past Sri Lanka's total of 138 for six wickets in 20 overs, with Afridi remaining not out with 54 from 40 balls.

As people celebrated the victory in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, in his congratulatory message, announced a cash award of 1 million rupees, or about $12,300, each to Afridi and team captain Younus Khan, Dawn newspaper reported.

A presidential spokesman said the money would come out of the president's discretionary fund.

Sri Lanka had reached the final after winning all its matches. But its contest against Pakistan looked shaky with early loss of wickets, until Kumar Sangakkara's 64 helped steady the situation. Pakistan's comeback to the final was remarkable as it had lost two of its matches in the early stages.