New skipper Afridi inspires Pakistan's T20 win

COLOMBO: Shahid Afridi shone with bat and ball on his debut as Pakistan's Twenty20 captain to steer the world champions to an emphatic 52-run win over Sri Lanka here on Wednesday.

Afridi smashed 50 off 37 balls in Pakistan's 172-5, then claimed 1-21 in four economical overs and effected a run out with a direct throw as Sri Lanka were shot out for 120 with 11 balls to spare.

A sell-out crowd of 35,000 at the overflowing Premadasa stadium watched the first T20 match between the two teams since the World Twenty20 final in England in June, when Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets.

The result was the same as seamer Rana Naved and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal picked up three wickets each to stun the hosts.

Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals with skipper Kumar Sangakkara the only batsman to offer resistance against the fired-up Pakistanis with 38 off 31 balls.

Afridi, who was man of the match in both the semi-final and final at the Worlds, once again won the award as Pakistan ended an otherwise dismal tour of Sri Lanka on a winning note.

Pakistan had lost the preceding Test series 2-0 and conceded the one-dayers by a 2-3 margin during the six-week tour.

Afridi hit two sixes and four boundaries after taking over the Twenty20 team from Test and one-day skipper Younus Khan, who has retired from the shortest format of the game.

"I told the boys before the match that we were world champions and so we should go out there and play like champions," the 29-year-old Afridi said.

"I am an aggressive captain and I wanted the whole team to play aggressively. That is what we did and I must congratulate the whole team for a fantastic win."

Sangakkara blamed the defeat on a poor all-round display.

"I think we gave Pakistan 20-25 extra runs," he said. "We would have been happier chasing around 150 and although we got a good start, we fell away at the end.

"We have to learn from this and improve the next time we get on the field."

Sri Lanka take on New Zealand in a two-Test series starting in Galle on Tuesday.

Pakistan, who elected to bat after winning the toss, lost a wicket off the first ball when Kamran Akmal was bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara after attempting a big heave.

The other opener, Imran Nazir, cracked five fours and a six in his 40 off 28 balls to boost the total as Pakistan moved to 59-3 by the eighth over.

Teenager Umar Akmal, who hit a 20-ball 30, put on 66 for the fourth wicket with Afridi.

Abdul Razzaq and Misbah-ul Haq added a quickfire 33 as Pakistan plundered 47 runs in the last five overs to leave Sri Lanka facing a daunting target of 8.7 runs an over.