Sri Lankan players celebrate the dismissal of Misbah-ul-Haq © AFP
Sri Lankan players celebrate the dismissal of Misbah-ul-Haq © AFP

 

By Devarchit Varma

 

Feb 25, 2014

 

Lasith Malinga claimed five wickets towards the end to snatch a victory from Pakistan, and lead Sri Lanka to a narrow 12-run win in the opening One-Day International (ODI) match of the Asia Cup 2014 tournament at Fatullah on Tuesday. Pakistan, chasing 297 to win, were bowled out for 284 in 48.5 overs.

 

Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal added 121 runs for the fifth wicket, reviving their side and putting them on course for a win at Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, but their effort went in vain.

 

Malinga returned in the 45th over of the innings, which proved to be a masterstroke by the Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews. Malinga claimed two wickets — including the priced scalp of Misbah — to put Sri Lanka back in control of the game. Shahid Afridi disappointed once again as he was dismissed in the fourth ball of the over.

 

In the penultimate over of the match, Malinga trapped Saeed Ajmal in front of the wickets and cleaned up Bilawal Bhatti to lead Sri Lanka to a memorable win in the tournament.

 

With this five-wicket haul, Malinga also completed 250 wickets in ODIs, becoming the fastest Sri Lankan to achieve the feat.

 

Chasing a huge target of 297 runs to win, Pakistan innings was a roller-coaster ride as the momentum kept swinging between the two sides. Pakistan made a confident start to their chase, with Sharjeel Khan taking the attack to the opposition. The 24-year-old left-handed batsman showed aggressive intent in the beginning, playing strokes around the park with ease.

 

Sharjeel started off with a boundary on the final ball of the first over, and hit consecutive boundaries off Malinga in the fifth over. He welcomed Sri Lanka spinner Sachithra Senanayake with a six over the midwicket region in the next.

 

But on the first ball of the seventh over, Sharjeel mistimed a pull off Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews took a simple catch.

 

Ahmed Shehzad had struggled till then — he had faced 14 balls for one run by the end of seventh over. But Sharjeel’s dismissal saw Shehzad taking over the charge of being the aggressor, as he cracked some excellent drives through covers for fours.

 

Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez not only rescued them from the trouble but also added 49 runs for the second wicket. But in the 13th over, Chaturanga de Silva rocked Pakistan as he found gap between Shehzad’s bat and pad, as the ball crashed into the wickets. Shehzad fell after scoring 28 off 37 balls with the help of four boundaries.

 

There was more trouble in store for Pakistan as in the next over, a delivery from Mathews kept low and Hafeez was hit in front of the wickets.

 

Sohaib Maqsood failed too, as he went after an awkwardly short delivery from Senanayake and found the fielder at deep midwicket. Pakistan were at 122 for four after 24 overs.

 

Misbah then joined forces with Umar, as the two right-handed batsmen thwarted all threats from the Sri Lankan bowlers as well as the pitch, which kept surprising with its uneven bounce on couple of occasions. While Misbah went about his innings with the usual calm and composed approach, Umar took time to settle in. Both the batsmen found scoring easy as the pitch did not offer much turn and bounce and was easy to bat.

 

Umar, after seeing off few initial deliveries, opened up in the 29th over, slamming a six over the midwicket region off Mathews. He followed this up with a fine stroke for six and a boundary off Lakmal to break the shackles.

 

While Misbah brought up his half-century in the 36th over, Umar achieved the feat in the 41st over with a boundary off Lakmal. The Pakistani batsman had a special liking for the right-arm Sri Lankan pacer, as he followed that up with a six and a boundary to put Pakistan in complete command. Umar carried the momentum in the next over, clobbering two boundaries off de Silva.

 

It was Lakmal who had the last laugh, as he got Umar caught behind the wickets by Kumar Sangakkara for 74 off 72 balls. Umar hit three sixes and seven boundaries during his stay at the crease.

 

Earlier in the first innings, 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. 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.

 

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) beat Pakistan 284 in 48.5 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 73, Umar Akmal 74; Lasith Malinga 5 for 52) by 12 runs.

 

Man of the Match: Lasith Malinga

 

Full Scorecard

 

Photo Gallery

 

Asia Cup 2014 Points Table

 

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