Angelo Mathews © Getty Images (File Photo)
Angelo Mathews registered his career-best total of 89 in ODIs © Getty Images (File Photo)

By Rajarshi Majumdar

Aug 23, 2014

Angelo Mathews smashed a quickfire 89 and Mahela Jayawardene’s innings of 63 helped Sri Lanka set a daunting target of 276, against Pakistan in their rain-truncated first One-Day International (ODI) match at Hambantota. Sri Lanka recovered well after being reduced to 55/3 in the 13th over, as Mathews and Jayawardene’s 116-run stand helped them get back on track.

Pakistan were tamed by Sri Lanka in the Test series and since then the tourists were planning a comeback plot to avenge their defeat. It all started on a good note on Saturday in the first ODI, as they kept the Sri Lankan openers quiet for the initial overs. Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan opened the proceedings for Pakistan, and bowled a good line and length. In the first six overs Sri Lanka could only manage 18 runs and also lost the big wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan.

The pitch at the Mahinda Rajpaksa Stadium had a bit of grass on it initially which pushed Misbah-ul-Haq to take the call of bowling first. It all went well for the fast bowlers initially. Wahab Riaz and Irfan generated some serious pace and movement off the pitch, which helped them to make early breakthroughs.

There was a slight delay in the the match initially because of the rain the game was interrupted once again after six overs and stopped the match for at least half-an-hour. The second delay meant that the game was then reduced to 45-overs-a-side affair.

The moment the match resumed Pakistani bowlers picked three wickets. Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal failed to make a mark, and their dismissal at regular intervals hurt Sri Lanka.

Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews then teamed up to steady the Sri Lankan innings. It was a slow and steady build up which they plotted. On one hand Mathews kept the scoreboard ticking with a strike rate of 100 plus and Jayawardene was happy to rotate the strike.  In the meanwhile both of them reached their respective half-centuries. Meanwhile, Jayawardene went past Inzamam-ul-Haq in the all-time scorers list.

Jayawardene and Mathews added as many as 116 runs for the fifth wicket, which not only provided Sri Lanka much-needed momentum but also a platform from where they could launch them for a big total. Jayawardene fell in the 38th over, and despite the wicket Mathews looked to hoik each and every ball and reached his highest-ever ODI score of 89 from 84 balls.

At one moment it looked like Sri Lanka might just crawl up to somewhere around 220, but Mathews’s knock and some late blitz from Ashan Priyanjan helped the hosts pile up 275 from 45 overs.

The Pakistani bowlers were wrecked as none of them could make an impression when the Sri Lankans went for their strokes. Mohammad Hafeez was the pick of the bowlers who maintained an economy of 4.00 throughout his spell.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 275 for 7 in 45 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 63, Angelo Mathews 89; Mohammad Irfan 2 for 48, Wahab Riaz 3 for 50) vs Pakistan

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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.)