K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Karachi: Misbah-ul-Haq kept sending a few missives up and the cricketing gods while approving his sixes, ruled in favour of Sri Lanka’s consistent game-plan as the islanders defeated the host by 64 runs in a STAR Cricket Asia Cup semifinal league match at the National Stadium here on Sunday.
Chasing Sri Lanka’s 302 for seven in 50 overs that was built upon Man of the Match Kumar Sangakkara’s 112, Pakistan found a cold starting block as Chaminda Vaas castled Salman Butt for a blob.
Skipper Shoaib Malik (52) and Younis Khan (47) tried to puncture the pressure with a flurry of boundaries in their 72-run partnership.
The Lankans never flagged as skipper Mahela Jayawardene reinforced the offside cordon and with Vaas regaining his pinpoint accuracy in an eight-over first spell conceding just 34 runs, the Pakistan surge fizzled.
Younis miscued a pull, Mohammad Yousuf played across, Shoaib Malik gave the fatal charge and Shahid Afridi irresponsibly swung his bat to leave his team gaping at 135 for five in 32.3 overs while the Sri Lankan spin trio of Muralitharan, Jayasuriya and Mendis (four for 47) choked the middle overs.
Misbah (76, 70b, 3x4, 4x6) however had his own theories of redemption and swung Mendis and Jayasuriya high and kept finding the fence with his down-the-knee swivelling shots. The fans inched to the exit gate when Misbah fell and Pakistan was restricted to 238 for nine in 50 overs.
Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara’s ninth ODI hundred (112, 110b, 10x4, 1x6) and second in the current tournament, anchored the visitors after Shoaib Malik opted to field on a placid track.
Jayasuriya fell early and Sangakkara along with Jayawardene pushed the score with deft touches. Jayawardene however failed to keep his square-drive down but Sangakkara chugged along, caressing one straight past a flailing Tanvir in his follow-through.
Kapugedera (43) joined forces and swatted Wahab Riaz. And Sangakkara bisected deep backward square-leg and fine leg with a feather-touch flick. Kapugedera then became debutant leg-spinner Mansoor Amjad’s maiden ODI wicket.
Sangakkara for a split-second threatened to get out as he started for a single after tapping one to point but he recouped and the bandwagon rolled on. He got his hundred while Chamara Silva (46) gave him company.
Five for Tanvir
Sangakkara, after depositing Mansoor over the ropes, succumbed to a persevering Tanvir, who had also got rid of Chamara. Tanvir’s five-wicket haul was complete when an on-the-run Wahab caught Thushara near the square-leg fence.