Dubai, Nov 21: Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi's stunning performance both with the bat and ball helped Pakistan win the fourth one day international against Sri Lanka by 26 runs in a low scoring match at Dubai on Sunday.
The most famous all rounder, made a comeback to the national side after having announced his retirement and proved the critics wrong as he scored a fine half century and picked up 5 wickets to help Pakistan register a 3-1 series win against Sri Lanka in Dubai on Sunday.
"I had a point to prove and actions speak louder than words," said Afridi after a match winning performance, who came out of conditional retirement before the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka.
"There were a lot of challenges and there were a lot things that I had to prove wrong [about me]. "I know there is a lot of expectation from me and I too understand how my batting could help the team. I am doing exactly according to the demand, as I made my comeback with an aim and goal. Now I want to play cricket and nothing else, and focus on my game."
After winning the toss Pakistan lost the openers at quick succession and wickets started to tumble as they were reeling at 71/5 as Sri Lankan bowlers Fernando and Prasanna claimed the first few wickets before Mendis joined the league.
Afridi walked in when Pakistan badly needed someone to bat the remaining overs, as he just did that, during his knock of 75 off 65 balls which included 4 hits to the fence and 3 sixes. His knock helped the team reach a defendable target of 200 on a slow pitch.
Apart from Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal none of the batsmen played well as wickets fell at the other end. Sri Lankan bowlers made merry as they picked up wickets at regular intervals and were happy having restricted the opponents to 200.
Sri Lanka, in reply to Pakistan's 200, lost three wickets for 53 runs, but the fourth wicket stand proved vital as Sangakkara and Jayawardene looked steady and as people thought these two were taking Srilanka safe towards the target, then came Afridi, the man of the match who rattled Sangakkara's stumps while he was on 58.
After grabbing the wicket of Sangakkara, turning point of the match, Afridi said "When Sri Lanka were in a winning position, the captain [Misbah] said we needed just one wicket, and I was lucky that I got Sangakkara out," which helped them change the course of the game.
Within two overs, Sri Lanka lost another important wicket of Jayawardene as he holed out to Hafeez off Afridi after scoring 55. Srilanka's hopes to win the fourth one dayer and level the series at 2-2 was shattered as the team lost two important batsmen at a crucial time.
Rest is history as Sri Lanka lost yet another match as it seemed like the team is going to win at one point of time later to lose by 26 runs. Apart from Afridi's five wicket haul, Ajmal and Cheema picked up two wickets each while Hafeez picked up one wicket helping the team to bowl out Sri Lanka for 174 to register their third win in the 5 match series in Dubai on Sunday.
With an impressive comeback, after a conditional retirement, Afridi has proved his critics wrong. Pakistan winning the series 3-1 leaves cricket buffs unenthusiatic as they play Sri Lanka in the fifth one dayer on Wednesday. Though the result is known, Sri Lanka needs to play for pride as they plan to finish the series on a high with a win against Pakistan in Dubai.