Latif leads Pakistan to cricket bronze


GUANGZHOU: Skipper Khalid Latif smashed an unbeaten 53 off 42 balls as Pakistan won the cricket bronze medal at the Asian Games with a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Friday.
Latif, whose five one-day internationals made him the only capped player in his young team, hit four sixes and two fours to lift Pakistan past Sri Lanka’s 135 all out with two overs to spare.
Three of those sixes came in one over from leg-spinner Malinga Bandara, boosting the total after Pakistan had lost four wickets for 85 runs.
Bilawal Bhatti returned unbeaten on a quickfire 24 off 14 balls that included the winning hit for a six off Nuwan Zoysa.
Pakistan made amends for the 22-run defeat in Thursday’s semi-final against Afghanistan, who take on Bangladesh in the final later on Friday.
Sri Lanka’s total revolved around an opening stand of 53 in eight overs between Zoysa and Jeevantha Kulatunga.
Kulatunga top-scored with 31, while Zoysa, who played 30 Tests and 95 one-dayers primarily as a left-arm seamer, hit two fours and a six in a run-a-ball 24.
Dilshan Munaweera’s 28 carried Sri Lanka to 100-3 by the 15th over, before the last seven wickets crashed for 35 runs, four batsmen being run out.
Left-arm spinner Raza Hassan was Pakistan’s best bowler with 2-19 from his four overs.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh cricketers won their nation’s first ever Asian Games gold medal by ending Afghanistan’s dream run in the inaugural final on Friday.
Mohammad Ashraful’s men ensured their place in history with a five-wicket victory in a thrilling Twenty20 final in front of 2,000 excited spectators at the Guanggong cricket stadium.
Bangladesh were reduced to 75-5 by the 16th over, before the sixth-wicket pair of Naeem Islam and Mohammad Shabbir put on an unbeaten 44-run partnership to secure a memorable win.
With 19 needed off 12 balls, the pair hammered 17 runs in the penultimate over bowled by off-spinner Karim Sadeq, including two towering sixes by Shabbir, to seal Afghanistan’s fate. Naeem returned unbeaten on 34 and Shabbir smashed 33 not out off 18 balls to clinch victory that will spark wild celebrations in the cricket-mad South Asian nation.
Naeem had earlier taken two wickets for eight runs from three overs to keep Afghanistan down to a modest total. Afghanistan were 66-6 by the 13th over, before Mohammad Asghar revived their chances with an unbeaten 38 off 36 balls, sharing a crucial stand of 44 for the seventh wicket with Shabbir Ahmed (25).