The rain stayed away long enough for Pakistan to chalk out yet another win over Sri Lanka in a low-scoring match, in the first one day international of the five match Jazz cup series. Pakistan won by 6 wickets by D/L method.
Set to score a D/L adjusted 135 off 42 overs, Pakistan reached the target with plenty of time to spare. There were initial hiccups in the form of an early wicket – Azhar Ali was caught behind off Malinga – and Younis Khan was surprised by the swing that Kulasekara managed off the pitch. But opener Mohammed Hafeez put up a 50-run partnership with Captain Misbah-ul-Haq to stabilise the top order. By the time Hafeez departed with the score reading 78, missing the line defending to Rangana Herath and being stumped, Pakistan were in control.
Earlier, Sri Lankan batsmen could not handle the pace and movement of the Pakistani bowlers, and stuttered to 135. Only Lahiru Thirimanne showed application and mastery over the conditions, on his way to an unbeaten 42. Three rain interruptions shaved off eight overs off their innings – and Sri Lanka will be very grateful for that. The way Sri Lankan batsmen applied themselves, they would certainly not have lasted the allotted quota of overs.
Sri Lanka began cautiously with Mahela Jayawardene partnering T.M.Dilshan. Dilshan was put down at covers by Hafeez off Umar Gul in the third over with the score at 2. Dilshan, who completed 2000 ODI runs, looked distinctly uncomfortable during his short stay. He soon hit one towards the stratosphere and Saeed Ajmal made no mistake at mid-on. It was 8 for 1 with just over 4 overs bowled.
Mahela had a miserable stay too; and it ended in over 7 when he missed an in-ducker from Umar Gul. He had his share of luck: was earlier caught off a no-ball off Tanvir. He swung at the next ball – a free hit – was caught again at mid-on. But that was off a free hit. Sangakkara was joined by Dinesh Chandimal.
Dinesh Chamdimal perished trying to force a pitched up Umar Gil delivery. Dinesh missed, and the ball travelled on to the stumps. At 23 for 3 - 15 of which were from extras - Sri Lanka relied more on Pakistan largesse, and a little on Sangakkara to see them to a decent total. In all, Pakistan gifted Sri Lanka 31 extras.
The first boundary of the innings came at over number 12. A short, wide offering from Tanvir was put away by Sangakkara. But Sangakkara too did not last long enough, trapped in front by a Sami outswinger.
That brought in Sri Lanka’s trouble shooter, Anjelo Mathews who, seemed strangely out of place in the middle. He lasted five balls, and edged a Sami outswinger that made him commit to s stroke. Misbah at first slip took a comfortable catch.
A rain interruption soon should have come in handy for the Sri Lankans. But soon after the break, offie Hafeez was in action. Upul Tharanga wanted to hoist Hafeez over his head, but it is not for nothing that Hafeez is in the top five list of leading one-day bowlers in the world now. He read the intentions, fired one in straight and fast, striking timber. The score board read 56 for 6. All but one recognised batsman, Lahiru Thirimanne, were back in the dressing room. Hafeez also snarled the next batsman in, Thisara Perera, out-thinking him. The batsman played for the classical offbreak, when the ball, pitched on the off, just held its line and hit the pads. Hafeez completed his brilliant 10-over speck with his figures reading 2 for 20.
Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene lbw Gul 3, T.M. Dilshan c Ajmal b Gul 5, K. Sangakkara lbw Sami 9, D. Chandimal b Gul 0, U.Tharanga b Hafeez 10, A. Mathews c Misbah b Sami 0, L. Thirimanne (not out) 42, T. Perera lbw Hafeez 17, N. Kulasekera c Tanvir b Sami 18, R.Herath (not out) 0. Extras 31. Total (in 42 overs) 135.
Fall of wickets 1-8, 2-12, 3-23, 4-40, 5-41, 6-56, 7-81, 8-131.
Pakistan: Gul 9-2-24-3, Tanvir 8-0-30-0, Sami 6-2-19-3, Hafeez 10-3-20-2, Ajmal 5-0-23-0, Afridi 4-2-12-0.
Pakistan: M. Hafeez st Sangakkara b Herath 37, A. Ali c Sangakkara b Malinga 3, Y. Khan b Kulasekara 5, Misbah-ul-Haq (run out) 30, U.Akmal (not out) 36, S. Afridi (not out) 2.Extras (b2 lb13 w7): 22; Total (for 4 wickets in 34.1 overs) 135.
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-27, 3-78, 4-133.
Sri Lanka: Malinga 7-2-24-1, Kulasekara 9-3-29-1, Mathews 6-1-18-0, Perera 6.1-0-31-0, Herath 6-0-18-1