Dashing all-rounder Shahid Afridi starred in Pakistan's exciting three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 international at Dubai stadium.

Afridi scored an unbeaten 20-ball 39, hitting the winning six off the first ball of the final over by paceman Nuwan Kulasekara on Wednesday to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

In all, Afridi hit three sixes and two boundaries to help Pakistan overcome a tough challenge from the top-ranked Twenty20 side who had taken the match to the final over with the 'hosts' needing six runs.

First Twenty20 Scorecard

Sri Lanka

T Dilshan c Shehzad b Tanvir 7 
M Perera lbw b Ajmal 15
D Chandimal lbw b Afridi 22
K Sangakkara c Afridi b Ajmal 21
A Mathews c Sharjeel b Tanvir 50
L Thirimanne not out 23
T Perera not out 2

Extras: 5
Total: (5 wickets; 20 overs) 145

Pakistan

S Khan c Dilshan b T Perera 34
Shehzad c Thirimanne b Senanayake 4 M Hafeez lbw b Mendis 32
U Akmal run out (Mendis) 5
S Maqsood lbw b Malinga 13
U Amin c Chandimal b Malinga 8
S Afridi not out 39
B Bhatti c T Perera b Malinga 10
S Tanvir not out 0

Extras: 1
Total: (7 wickets; 19.1 overs) 146

Set a challenging 146 to get, Pakistan lost Ahmed Shehzad (four) in the third over but Mohammad Hafeez (32) and Sharjeel Khan (34) steadied the innings through their 57-run second wicket stand before they lost three wickets for seven runs.

Sharjeel holed out after hitting three fours off 31 balls while captain Hafeez, who hit two fours and a six in his 27-ball knock, fell leg-before and Umar Akmal was run out for five.

It was left to Afridi to see Pakistan through.

Criticised for his recent poor batting form, Afridi hit two towering sixes in Kulasekara's 16th over to give Pakistan a sniff of victory.

When on 23, Afridi also became the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 50 wickets in Twenty20 cricket.

Afridi was delighted to return to his aggressive batting.

"Pakistan won and I'm very happy for that," Afridi said.

"I have to mention Hafeez, who was not feeling well but still he played for the country.

"It's nice to bat well, once in a blue moon."

Tourists' poor start

Earlier, Sent into bat, Sri Lankan batsmen failed to give theuir team a good start before Mathews (50) and Lahiru Thirimanne (23 not out) added 58 for the fifth wicket stand to take their team to 145-5 in 20 overs.

Mathews hit five boundaries and a six off 34 balls before holing out in the last over.

He hit paceman Bilawal Bhatti for three boundaries in one over before sending left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir to long-on ropes to reach his fifty off 32 balls.

Experienced opener Tillakaratne Dilshan managed just seven before he was the first wicket to fall in the second over.

Kusal Perera (15) and skipper Dinesh Chandimal (22) then added 32 for the second wicket but off-spinner Saeed Ajmal put on the initial brakes with 2-35.

Kumar Sangakkara scored 21.

Pakistan gave an international debut to 19-year-old Usman Shinwari after the left-arm paceman was drafted into the team as late as Tuesday but the youngster bowled only one over, giving away nine runs.

Tanvir finished with 2-32 while Afridi took 1-20 in his four overs.

The second match will also be played in Dubai on Friday.

The two teams also play five One-Day Internationals and three Tests.

Source: AFP