Thisara Perera used the short balls effectively on a flat Dambulla wicket © AFP
Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan comprehensively by seven wickets and 177 balls to spare in the 3rd and final One-Day International (ODI)at Dambulla on Saturday, thereby clinching the series by 2-1.Thisara Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan were the star performers of the day. Rajarshi Majumdar looks back at some of the key moments of the match.
Conditions: The conditions were bright and sunny initially, it went overcast as the day progressed. There was a steep breeze throughout the day that blew across the ground. The Sri Lankans read the conditions and the pitch well enough to demolish Pakistan for a mere total of 102 runs.
Dhammika Prasad and Lasith Malinga’s opening spell: Dhammika Prasad was picked in the place of Nuwan Kulasekara as the latter was struggling with form. Prasad removed the Paksitani opening batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan in a short span of time. He bowled six overs in his first spell and gave away only 25 runs. Lasith Malinga, on the other hand, looked on song as he bowled a tight line and length right from the onset. The first 12 overs between them produced three important wickets and conceded just 33 runs. They bowled good line and length and there were hardly any loose deliveries.
Pakistan’s middle-order collapse: Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood and Shahid Afridi. All of them failed to impress yet again on Saturday. The Pakistan middle-order failed abjectly against the Sri Lankan bowling attack. Misbah was expected to bail the side out of trouble when he came to bat and could have stayed there alongside Fawad Alam, who showed some resistance. Misbah threw his wicket away by calling Alam for a run which was never there. There are few players in the world of cricket who would dare to take on Tillakaratne Dilshan’s fielding skills. Umar Akmal failed for the third time in the series. After hitting a six, he played a needless shot to get out. Maqsood got out to a brilliant short pitch delivery from Perera. Seekkuege Prasanna lined up Afridi, as he too got out by playing a loose shot.
Thisara Perera’s spell from hell: Thisara Perera has been in sublime form in this series as he picked up nine wickets and scored 138 runs. After the first change in bowling, Rangana Herath and Angelo Mathews failed to break the partnership between Misbah and Fawad Alam. Resultantly, Mathews introduced Perera, and in his second over Misbah ran himself out and then Perera ran through the middle order and the tail with ease. He exposed the weak point of all the Pakistani batsmen. Perera used the short balls effectively on a flat Dambulla wicket and Pakistan batsmen, who were uncomfortable,threw their wickets away without any gumption.
Key moment in the match: Misbah-ul-Haq‘s run out was the key moment in this match. There was never a run there. It was a bad call indeed that resulted in gifting his wicket to the Sri Lankans. Dilshan was quick to react and he made the direct hit. Had Misbah been not out, Pakistan might have scored few more runs. But no one knows this game of cricket well; it can change anytime, any moment.
Fawad Alam wages a lone battle: Fawad Alam impressed the selectors and as well as his captain throughout the ODI series. As a result of his performances in the first two ODIs, he was promoted to bat at No 5 in place of Umar. He kept on scoring from one side but he kept on losing partner at the other end. He never got the support that was required.
Sri Lanka get off to a flier: Upul Tharanga and Dilshan took on the Pakistani bowling attack right from the start.. The bowlers could not hit the right line and length and as a result Dilshan and Tharanga routed them. They maintained a run rate of over six and a half runs per over. After Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed, Mahela Jayawardene joined the party. He scored briskly during his innings of r 26 runs. Later, Mathews and Dilshan finished things off in style. Dilshan reached his fifty as well after hitting the winning runs.
Complete coverage of Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka here
(Rajarshi Majumdar is a reporter at CricketCountry. He played cricket for all age levels under the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) for over 12 years. Apart from cricket he is an avid follower of football, supports Manchester United and a foodie at heart)