Tendulkar returns with fifty,but Shahid Afridi steals the show


There was the great Sachin Tendulkar facing world class bowlers for the first time in almost four months. There was Brian Lara at his brilliant best. Then there was Waqar Younis making his ‘Pakistan return’. But the man who stole the show in a charity match between Pakistan and an International XI here at The Oval on Monday night was Shahid Afridi, the hardest hitting batsman in world cricket today.

Chasing 124 in 10 overs, Pakistan achieved the target on the last ball thanks to an electric 41 off just 12 balls from Afridi, a knock that brought 20,092 fans at the ground into a frenzy.

Played in near darkness, the match saw 250 runs being scored in 20 overs with sixers and fours being clobbered all over the park by the likes of Afridi, Tendulkar, Dhoni and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

It all happened after the typically cruel English weather had seriously threatened to spoil the party arranged by local cricket authorities to generate funds for the survivors of last October’s earthquake in Pakistan. They did manage to raise over quarter of a million pounds but the twenty20 match had to be reduced to a ‘ten10’ outing due to sporadic drizzles and a cloud cover.

But it didn’t seem to bother a galaxy of international cricket stars much. Though Sri Lankan wizard Muthiah Muralitharan backed out at the last minute, plenty of stars turned up to play for the International XI led by Indian skipper Rahul Dravid.

He had three of his team-mates — Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Zaheer Khan — playing for him. For most of the time, it seemed like a Pakistan-India encounter and the crowd, mostly Pakistani fans, loved it.

Dravid won the toss and chose to bat, sending in the dream opening pair of Lara and Tendulkar to begin the proceedings. Turning back the clock, Pakistan

began with Waqar Younis, a hero for the local Pakistani community.

Both Lara and Tendulkar did show him some respect and at times Waqar seemed to trouble them a bit with his trademark swinging Yorkers in the opening over.

Sami took the ball from the other end and bowling with a shortened run up was not as penetrative. However, he showed no signs of fitness problems after being hit on the knee during a warm-up game at Canterbury last week.

Lara threw any respect he had for Waqar out of the window in the third over when he hit three superb boundaries through the covers.

The pair put on 72 for the opening wicket before Lara fell to Abdul Razzaq in the 7th over for 32. Dhoni joined Tendulkar and the last three overs belonged to him. He hit 35 off 13 balls as the International XI finished at 123 for 1 in ten overs. Tendulkar top scored with an unbeaten 50 off 26 balls that included eight fours and a six, once again proving that he is ready for a much-awaited return to international cricket.

Pakistan began tentatively as Imran Farhat played and missed before falling cheaply to Zaheer Khan at 7 in the third over. With Pakistan 13 for 1 in 2.2 overs, Afridi walked in and won the match for his team within a space of four overs. He hit Zaheer for 22 runs in the first four balls he faced with three huge sixers and a four. He fell to New Zealander Scott Styris after hitting two sixes and trying for a third in the sixth over. Pakistan were then safely placed at 80-2 in six overs. Skipper Inzamam then joined the fun and together with opener Shoaib Malik carried Pakistan through. Pakistan needed 18 in the last over and two on the last ball, but Styris bowled a no ball and later Inzy hit him for a four on the last ball to seal a thrilling win.

Kiwi star Chris Cairns also played for the International XI but surprisingly did not bowl or bat for the side.

Source:The News

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Written by Team CricketViewer on July 12th, 2006 with no comments.
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