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Asia Cup 2014: Lahiru Thirimanne’s ton helps Sri Lanka set 297-run target against Pakistan

Lahiru Thirimanne struck 11 boundaries and a six to score 102 off 110 balls © AFP
Lahiru Thirimanne struck 11 boundaries and a six to score 102 off 110 balls © AFP

By Devarchit Varma

Feb 25, 2014

Lahiru Thirimanne slammed his second One-Day International (ODI) century while Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews struck fifties, to help Sri Lanka post a challenging target of 297 against Pakistan in the first match of the Asia Cup 2014 tournament at Fatullah on Tuesday.

Electing to bat first, Sri Lanka squandered a perfect opportunity of posting a huge total as they reached 296 for six in their allotted 50 overs.

Thirimanne faced 110 balls, smashed 11 boundaries and a six to score 102, and added 161 runs for the second wicket with Sangakkara to help Sri Lanka consolidate their stand, before Pakistan fought and pulled back things in control.

Sangakkara, on the other hand, continued his good run with the bat as he completed yet another half-century, scoring 67 runs off 65 balls with the help of eight boundaries.

Mohammad Hafeez began the proceedings for Pakistan early on, producing an opportunity on the fourth ball of the innings as the ball bounced more than Kusal Perera’s anticipation, and took an edge. Ahmed Shehzad dived to his left but could not reach the ball.

The Sri Lankan openers were cautious in the beginning. They did not go for their shots and scored runs off those that were loose. However, after trudging to 24 in seven overs, Perera fell to Umar Gul for 14. Gul bowled a cross-seam delivery with an angle going away from the left-hander, and Umar Akmal did a fine job behind the wickets.

Sangakkara, who came in at No 3, started off with a fine stroke through the covers for a boundary in the same over. Pakistan introduced Junaid Khan in the eighth over of the game but he failed to make a mark.

Both Sangakkara and Thirimanne adopted a cautious approach early in their partnership and later took charge of proceedings. The two left-handers had absolutely no qualms batting on a flat deck at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium. They rotated the strike at ease and picked up boundaries off the loose ones.

Thirimanne brought up his half-century in the 20th over of the game. Pakistan meanwhile kept trying for a breakthrough but had no luck. In the next over off Saeed Ajmal, Thirimanne came forward to hit as he misread a doosra. The ball took an inside edge and went between the bat and pad, to the boundary, also missing the wicketkeeper.

On the other hand, Sangakkara continued his excellent run as he brought up his 84th half-century in ODIs and 11th against Pakistan, with a boundary off Hafeez in the 27th over of innings. Gul returned in the 32nd over of the innings and provided Pakistan the much-needed breakthrough. Sangakkara pulled a short delivery, but found Shehzad at the short midwicket position.

Pakistan pulled back things after Sangakkara’s dismissal — Thirimanne was cleaned up by Ajmal for 102 in the 36th over. It was also the first over of the batting powerplay. Sri Lanka lost one more wicket in form of Mahela Jayawardene. They managed just 28 runs in the process and also lost two wickets.

Sri Lanka slipped from 203 for two after 35 overs to 268 for six after 46 overs as Pakistan staged a fightback with wickets at regular intervals. Mathews waged a lone battle towards the end, as he remained unbeaten on 55 off 50 balls. He stuck five boundaries and a six in his innings.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 296 for 6 in 50 overs (Lahiru Thirimanne 102, Kumar Sangakkara 67, Angelo Mathews 55*; Umar Gul 2 for 38, Shahid Afridi 2 for 56) vs Pakistan.

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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

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