Bowlers lift Pakistan’s spirits

Bowlers lift Pakistan’s spirits

Pakistan closed out a slender 21-run victory over Sri Lanka in the third one-day international (ODI) at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday evening.

By Alex Leach

Published: Sat 19 Nov 2011, 2:18 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:33 AM

Defending 257-8, the home team managed to restrict their opponents to 236 all out in their subsequent run chase to go 2-1 up and take command of this best-of-five series with merely two left to play.

The hosts’ captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and elected to bat first. His decision reaped immediate rewards as openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat struck up an imperious first-wicket stand of 151.

Ten runs, including two boundaries apiece, came off Lasith Malinga’s opening over alone as Pakistan’s innings began in earnest in a bid to regain their series lead ahead of respective trips to Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

A gradual stemming of the runs duly began to materialise and Thisara Perera then fumbled a sharp return catch off Hafeez with the fourth ball of the third over to afford Pakistan a costly, early let-off.

How the visitors were to rue it too as the penetrative pair enjoyed an almost trouble-free run up to the 50-run partnership, with only an LBW referral against Hafeez by Seekkuge Prasanna providing a fleeting moment of anxiety.

The drinks break arrived at the end of the 16th over with Pakistan poised on 74-0 and it was clear they were thirsty for more runs upon the resumption as Hafeez clobbered Dilhara Fernando for 18 runs off six deliveries (including four fours, three of which came in consecutive balls).

By now though, Hafeez and Farhat had become accustomed to taking each delivery on its own merit; nudging and nurdling the ones and twos where necessary, while also finding boundaries on balls that simply demanded to be hit.

They’d made it to three figures just inside 20 overs (19.5 overs) and could have seen their stand broken at 112 had Prasanna not dropped another gilt-edged chance at cover off skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan.

A six in two successive overs further compounded Sri Lanka’s misery until they finally got that long-awaited, much-needed breakthrough for 151-1 after 29.2 overs; Hafeez (83) swinging and missing at a Prasanna cherry that spun off his legs and onto leg stump.

Farhat (70) followed suit 10 runs later as he went after Dilshan and only succeeded in picking out Mahela Jayawardene at long-on. From 161-2, Pakistan lost three top-to-middle order batsmen for 32 runs as Sri Lanka pegged back the run-rate and dragged themselves back into contention; Abdul Razzaq (6), Umar Akmal (7) and Misbah (7) all falling for single-digit scores.

However, Younis Khan (42) dropped anchor thereafter and the experienced right-hander ensured his team got up to 257-8 following supportive knocks from Shahid Afridi (15), wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed (3) and Sohail Tanvir (10no).

In reply, Sri Lanka’s Upul Tharanga found the boundary rope with Umar Gul’s opening offering, but that was to be his only contribution as the left-hander (4) was gone with the very next ball. Gul bent one back in that expertly evaded Tharanga’s straightening bat and found the off stump for 4-1.

A 107-run partnership between Dilshan and Kumar Sangakarra (45) steadied the ship, in spite of some nervy running, which ultimately spelt the end of the latter’s stay as Afridi’s direct throw ran him out.

‘Boom Boom’ dislodged Dilshan (64), rather fortuitously off his forearm, before Jayawardene (17) – who had earlier become only the ninth batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs – was caught marginally out of his ground by Saeed Ajmal and wicketkeeper Ahmed.

Birthday boy Dinesh Chandimal (31) holed out to sub Shoaib Malik off Ajmal prior to Malinga (0) getting trapped narrowly in front by a deceptive Afridi cherry for a two-ball duck. That same fate befell Jeevan Mendis (19), off Hafeez, and Ajmal clean bowled Perera (4) to leave the visitors teetering on the brink of agonising defeat at 224-8.

So it proved too as Prasanna (5) found Afridi off Gul, who ousted last-man-in Fernando (0) three balls later to seal the success.

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