Pathan brothers pull off T20 thriller (Second Lead)

February 11th, 2009 - 1:14 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 10 (IANS) Helped by the Pathan brothers, India Tuesday pulled off a thrilling win against Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 matched played in the island nation.

Chasing a mammoth 172 runs to win in the allotted 20 overs, India lost openers early and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. A win for the Twenty20 world champions seemed remote when the Pathan brothers, Irfan and Yusuf, came to the crease at the Premadasa stadium here.

Coming to bat when India were 115 for 7 after 15.1 overs, Irfan and IPL T20 specialist Yusuf fought back strongly and scored 59 runs in just 31 balls to ensure a three-wicket victory.

Yuvraj Singh was awarded the Hero Honda’s most glamourous player of the tour.

Yusuf Pathan was adjudged the man-of-the-match for scoring 22 runs in just 10 balls and taking two wickets.

Sri Lankan skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan said that although he thought 170 would be a winning total, at the end it was proved that they were at least 15 to 20 runs short.

“Sanath (Jayasuriya) and I started off well, the middle order played well and (our bowlers) picked some early wickets, but both Yusuf and Irfan played really well. We conceded 16 wides that was the turning point of the match,” Dilshan said, expressing satisfaction that the younger players in the team had done well.

Giving full credit to the Sri Lankan spinners for bringing the game to a nail-biting end, India’s skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said although his batsmen struggled a bit against the spinners in a turning wicket it was “a good learning process for them”.

“There are lots of youngsters in our team and a stiff match like this is a great learning experience for them. It is a learning curve for the youngsters,” Dhoni said after lifting the maiden Twenty20 trophy.

Irfan hit two fours and two sixes for his 33 off 16 balls while Yousuf had one four and two sixes to make a mockery of the Sri Lankan bowlers, who were going great guns before the duo joined forces.

Incidentally, it was a day of siblings, as the Hussey brothers - Michael and David - led Australia to victory against New Zealand in the fourth one-dayer of the Chappell-Hadlee series Tuesday.

Yousuf was first to go on the offensive when he blasted spinner Malinga Bandara for 17 runs in five balls after the Sri Lankan removed Ravinder Jadeja in the first ball. Before that Bandara was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, claiming three wickets.

The match suddenly changed momentum when Irfan joined Yousuf in belting Sri Lankan bowlers to silence the crowd.

With 18 runs required from 12 balls, Irfan hit Dilhara Fernando for 13 runs, including a six and four. Irfan finished in style when he dismissed Malinga’s second ball of the last over for a six.

Earlier, Suresh Raina (35 off 27) and Yuvraj Singh (32 off 21) added 67 runs for the third wicket before the middle order crumbled.

The Sri Lankan innings revolved around Dilshan, who was leading Sri Lanka for the first time. Veteran Jayasuriya and Dilshan gave a perfect start to Sri Lanka with 59 runs in six overs.

They opened up strongly, smashing 38 runs in four overs with Ishant Sharma being hit all over the park.

Jayasuriya blasted three fours and two sixes in 17 balls while Dilshan’s 47-ball knock included seven fours and one six.

Irfan provided the breakthrough to India, dismissing Jayasuriya.

Dilshan was joined by Jehan Mubarak and they added 28 runs. The run rate slowed down in the middle overs and Sri Lanka could add only 36 in seven overs.

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