Kandy: Pakistan has started series with flying colours as they defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets (D/L method) in a match which was interrupted by rain several times.
Pakistan's Umar Gul (2nd L) celebrates with teammates taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene during their first One Day International (ODI) in Pallekele June 7, 2012 © Reuters
Captain of Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and decided to bat first. It was a surprise decision as it was raining continuously for some days and the conditions were damp too.
Pakistani fast bowlers Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir ripped-off the Sri Lankan top order and froze the flow of runs. Dilshan (5) got out by playing a stupid shot. Jayawardene was given a lucky break by umpires who gave a poor decision without seeing all camera replays, he was caught out on Tanvir’s delivery but question was whether his foot landed behind the line or on the line, umpires saw the 1st replay camera angle which wasn’t clear and showed that Tanvir’s foot was over the mark and gave signal of no-ball. But later television replays from different camera angles showed that the foot of Tanvir was landed just before the line/mark and Mahela must had been given out.
Gul in the next overs took the revenge and beat Jayawardene (3) with pace and swing. The ball came back sharply and umpire didn’t hesitate in raising his finger for giving lbw. The pressure which Pakistan had built on Sri Lanka’s batting resulted into another wicket when Chandimal (0) played one back onto stumps, Umar Gul was the bowler once again.
The misery continued for Sri Lanka as their another top class batsmen Kumar Sangakkara after scoring 9 runs off 31 balls got out to the yorker of fast and furious Mohammad Sami.
Fall of Mathews wicket added salt to the wounds of Lankan Loins. Thrimanne tried to become a wall in front of Pakistani bowling line-up but Thanaga left him after getting out at the ball of M. Sami.
Perera tried to become the bridge between the score and Sri Lanka by supporting Thrimanne. Couple of interruptions confused Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq as he tried to use his spinners against them but didn’t get things very fine. Part time spinner Mohammad Hafeez who is now at no.4 in ICC ODI bowlers got rid of Perera (17) with an arm-ball.
Kulasekara extended the stay of Sri Lanka by adding 18 vital runs but he was caught out by Tanvir at the ball of M. Sami. Lahiru Thrimanne remained not-out at 42 with Herath; who faced only 1 ball but didn’t score.
8 overs were deducted because of the interruptions caused by rain. Sri Lanka ended up with the score of 135/8 in 42.0 overs. Pakistan who started with flying colours scrapped their performance by giving 31 extras (lb 7, w 23, nb 1) and dropping 4 catches. Sri Lankan top order once again misfired and put the weight on middle and lower order.
Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami took 3, 3 wickets whereas Mohammad Hafeez took 2 wickets. Bowling figures of Pakistani bowlers were pretty economical.
Pakistan started the chase with Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali. Both openers adopted cautious approach as ball was wobbling. This approach cost Pakistan when Azhar Ali gave his wicket to an ordinary delivery of Malinga, it was going away and Ali tried to slice it but the scenario ended with a catch in the gloves of wicket-keeper Sangakkara.
Stay of Younis Khan was not small, he stayed at the wicket for 23 min. , faced 16 balls but scored only 5 runs. He fell to a beautiful delivery of Nuwan Kulasekara. The score of Pakistan was 27/2 in 7.1 overs.
Once again captain Misbah-ul-Haq came in to rescue Pakistan from this situation. He build partnership with Mohammad Hafeez and also gave him confidence in raising his arms. He kept blocking the deliveries but on couple of occasions struck handsome boundaries.
Mohammad Hafeez after settling on the crease played some fine shots but unfortunately got stumped. His foot was on the line and 3rd umpire gave him out at the ball of Herath. Before getting out he scored 37 runs off 57 balls in his stay of 95 minutes and struck 5 FOURS & 1 SIX.
Young Umar Akmal came in to finish the things, he took the bowlers on and slashed them hard. It was an eye-catching moment to see two generations on crease, at one end there was 37-year old Misbah-ul-Haq and on other end there was 22-year old Umar Akmal. Both supported each other and played their game in favour of Pakistan.
Just when Pakistan was at the brink of victory, Misbah-ul-Haq got run-out. He faced 79 balls, stayed at the crease for 119 minutes, struck 4 FOURS to score 30 runs. His innings gave Pakistan a stability which was the team was looking for in uncertain situation.
His departure brought BOOM BOOM Afridi on the crease who clinched the victory for Pakistan by taking 2 runs. Umar Akmal also remained not-out at 36 runs including 6 FOURS which he scored off 48 balls.
Pakistan chased the target of 135 in 34.1 overs and sacrificed 4 wickets. Sri Lankan bowlers gave 22 extras (b 2, lb 13, w 6, nb 1). Malinga, Kulasekara and Herath bagged 1 wicket each.
Umpiring standards were down to earth as umpires gave several wrong decisions. The 2nd ODI will be played here again at Pallekele on June 09, 2012.
Result: Pakistan won by 6 wickets.
Man Of The Match: Umar Gul (Pakistan).