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Ground-breaking Afridi earns series share

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Shahid Afridi became the first player to 50 Twenty20 internationals and seven match awards in the format as Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 23 runs in Hambantota to tie the two-game rubber.

The 32-year-old began today with the same number of match awards as Kevin Pietersen and Sanath Jayasuriya, neither of whom are set to play in another T20 international.

Afridi struck an unbeaten 52 off 33 balls to help the tourists make 122 for six and the all-rounder then took 2-17 from four overs as Sri Lanka were bowled out with four deliveries unused.

Shahid Afridi

Shahid Afridi advances during a fourth fifty in his 50th Twenty20 international, in which he earned a record seventh match award

Pacemen Mohammad Sami and Yasir Arafat also impressed, with 3-16 and 3-17 respectively, as Pakistan avenged their 37-run defeat on Friday.

Pakistan were skittled for 95 in that loss, with only two of their batsmen making double figures, and it looked set to be a similar story today as, despite winning the toss, they slumped to 41 for four with over half of their allotted overs gone.

However, the departure of captain Mohammad Hafeez for 24 brought Afridi to the wicket and, in partnership with Shoaib Malik, he helped turn things round with quickfire 68-run stand.

Malik contributed 27 to that alliance but it was Afridi who was the real thorn in Sri Lanka’s side, the big-hitter striking five fours and a six as he made his fourth T20 international half-century.

Sri Lanka’s chase started well enough, with Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan putting on 19 for the first wicket.

However, Sangakkara and Nuwan Kulasekara were then both dismissed in the same Arafat over, with no addition to the score, and Sri Lanka were always playing catch-up after that.

Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne and captain Angelo Mathews reached double figures, but were unable to push on as an impressive bowling attack made it the lowest total Pakistan had defended.

Next up is the first of five one-day internationals on Thursday in Pallekele, ahead of three Tests between the sides.