Malinga nails Pakistan with five-wicket burst

Lasith Malinga bowled a superb last spell and ended with a five wicket haul as Sri Lanka began their Asia Cup defence in style with a thrilling 16 run win here at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. Defending a target of 242, the Sri Lankans responded extremely well despite a Shahid Afridi's onslaught that almost won the game for the tourists.

With Muttiah Muralitharan failing to do the job that he usually does, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara brought in Lasith Malinga with Pakistan needing 28 from 43 balls with three wickets in hand and he swung the game in Sri Lanka's favour. He picked up the wickets of Mohammad Aamer and Shoaib Akthar in one over and then returned for his last over with Pakistan needing 19 runs in 24 balls. He was left with just one delivery, the last of his ten overs when last man Mohammad Asif was on strike and produced an excellent ball on the middle stump, beat the batsman and knocked off the stumps prompting celebrations in the Sri Lankan camp. Malinga picked up his best bowling figures and his first five wicket haul as well.

It may have been Sri Lanka's day, but Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi gave some much needed life to the tournament with a thrilling hundred, his fifth and second against Sri Lanka. Earlier Pakistan had got off to a poor start and were 28 for three in the 14th over when Afridi arrived at the crease and they slumped to 32 for four soon. But irrespective of the circumstances, Afridi played in his typical style welcoming Farveez Maharoof to the attack with two successive sixes.

Afridi carried on in the same style bringing up his half-century in just 33 balls with five sixes and one boundary. Two partnerships with the Akmal brothers - Umar and Kamran - adding 73 runs for the fifth wicket before a direct hit from Tillekeratne Dilshan found Umar short of his crease. Then for the sixth wicket Afridi added 49 runs with Kamran before the latter too was run out, but Afridi was solid.

He was particularly harsh on Muttiah Muralitharan, whom he hit for five sixes. Muralitharan's ten overs cost 71 runs. He did able to eventually take Afridi's wicket when captain Sangakkara took an excellent reflex catch.

In the process, Afridi also completed 6000 ODI runs, becoming the sixth Pakistani to do so, but more importantly showed that he had matured over the years not taking too many undue risks.

After Kumar Sangakkara elected to bat first, Sri Lanka's middle order problems were once again exposed as they allowed Pakistan to get a firm grip on the game.

The hosts were well placed on 150 for three, but lost four quick wickets for the addition of just 18 runs. It all stated when Mahela Jayawardene was given out by umpire Billy Doctrove when the batsman tried to reverse sweep Shoaib Malik. The umpire failed to detect that there was a bottom edge and Jayawardene was fuming on his way back to the dressing room. He made 54.

Shoaib Akthar picked up the wickets of Chamara Kapugedara and Farveez Maharoof in successive overs in his second spell as both batsmen fell for soft dismissals. The presence of Maharoof in the side is sure to be the talking point among cricket supporters after the way he performed.

Maharoof, a surprise inclusion in the side, was said to be suited for the conditions in Dambulla, but he failed to achieve anything noteworthy. His contribution was just one run with the bat and he also conceded 53 runs in his eight overs without taking a wicket.

Mathews, who was left  with 13 overs to bat and only the tail to follow, did exceptionally well showing yet again that he has raised above the expectations. His unbeaten 55, the fifth of his career, came off 61 balls with four boundaries. The 43 runs he added for the eighth wicket was the second highest of the Sri Lankan innings.

Due to the quick loss of wickets Sri Lanka were also forced to not take the Power Play until the 45th over and eventually when it was taken, it was up to Mathews and the tail to push for the runs.

Shoaib Akthar, sidelined from the side for 13 months, due to injury and indiscipline issues was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan claiming three for 41.

www island.lk

Copyright©Upali Newspapers Limited.

Hosted by


Upali Newspapers Limited, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka, Tel +940112497500