Afridi blitz sinks India
by AFP

Ground:Modi Stadium, Kanpur
Scorecard:India v Pakistan
Player:Shahid Afridi, Naved-ul-Hasan, M Kaif, RS Dravid, SR Tendulkar
Event:Pakistan in India 2004/05

DateLine: 15th April 2005


Shahid Afridi smashed the second-fastest one-day century off 45 deliveries as Pakistan trounced India by five wickets to take an unassailable 3-2 lead in the six-match series.


The swashbuckling opener hit 10 boundaries and nine sixes in a brilliant 102 off 46 balls to help Pakistan overtake India's challenging 249-6 with 47 deliveries to spare at the Green Park here on Friday.


India must now win the final one-dayer in New Delhi on Sunday in front of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to draw the series.


Afridi, who holds the world record for the fastest one-day hundred off 37 balls against Sri Lanka in 1996, equalled the second-best effort of 45 deliveries by West Indian Brian Lara against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 1999.


The 25-year-old fell one ball after reaching his fourth hundred when he was bowled by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh playing a rare defensive shot to the great relief of the awe-struck Indian fielders.


Fellow opener Salman Butt, enjoying a ringside view of Afridi's fireworks, contributed just 21 in a first-wicket stand of 131 which came off 14.2 overs.


Pakistan strolled comfortably after Afridi's dismissal, taking another 28 overs to get the remaining 119 runs for victory with Shoaib Malik making 41.


Rahul Dravid, leading India in Sourav Ganguly's absence, and his Pakistani counterpart Inzamam-ul-Haq conceded Afridi made the difference.


"He played an absolutely brilliant knock," said Dravid, who himself top-scored in India's innings with 86.


"I thought 250 was a good score and if you take away Afridi's contribution it was not an easy target. He is a very dangerous player."


Inzamam said: "Afridi made the difference. Hope he continues like this in New Delhi as well because we have a good chance to win the series."


Afridi, the obvious choice for man-of-the-match, said the key to his success was positive thinking.


"I always go out there to play positive cricket," he said. "I did not score much in the first three games so I am glad I helped put my team in a winning position."


Pakistan raced to 55 in the first five overs, 43 off those runs coming off Afridi's blade in 15 deliveries with two sixes off Laxmipathy Balaji and three in one over off Anil Kumble.


Afridi, who had in the past twice scored half-centuries off 18 deliveries, needed 20 this time to reach his individual 50. When Pakistan posted 100 on the board, Afridi's own score was 75.


Fortune too appeared to favour the brave as Afridi was caught off a Dinesh Mongia no-ball when he reached 79.


Afridi's breathtaking strokeplay prompted an Indian spectator to display a signboard which read: "Afridi, please spare us for friendship's sake."


Afridi missed breaking his own world record of 11 sixes in a one-day innings he shares with Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka.


Earlier, Dravid and Mohammad Kaif (78) helped India recover from early blows by Rana Naved to post 249-6 from 50 overs after electing to take first strike.


Naved removed the formidable opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in his first three overs and dismissed Mahendra Dhoni in the fourth as India slipped to 26-3 after electing to bat on the slow wicket.


Dravid and Kaif put on 135 for the fifth wicket and Mongia, who came in for Ganguly, made an unbeaten 33 off 28 balls.


India took the field without Ganguly even though he was eligible to play after appealing the six-match ban imposed on him by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for slow over-rates during the previous two matches in Jamshedpur and Ahmedabad.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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