Dec 22, 2013
Mohammad Hafeez continued his golden run to score a sublime 140 not out to put Pakistan in a commanding position at 326 for five in the third One-Day International (ODI) against Sri Lanka at Sharjah on Sunday.
Pakistan’s top order, for the third time in a row clicked as a unit to give the Sri Lankans to chase a massive total. Angelo Mathews, depending on his team’s ability to chase down huge totals won the toss and for the second time in a row, put Pakistan to bat.
Mathews’s decision looked vindicated with Nuwan Kulasekera dismissing Sharjeel Khan with just two runs on the board. What followed was a script that is now a recurring theme in the series so far.
In came Hafeez at number three and unlike the second match of the series, it was Ahmed Shehzad who went after the Sri Lankan attack and Hafeez who dropped anchor.
After carefully negotiating dangerous Lasith Malinga’s spell, the Pakistani batsmen made merry with the tepid Sri Lankan attack. The pair accumulated 157 runs for the second wicket.
Malinga had earlier dropped a sitter and the Sri Lankan pacer had made amends to break the partnership that was threatening to take the game away from the island nation.
Buoyed by his teammates show, Sohaib Maqsood went after the Lankans from ball one but could not make it count. He was out for 21 of 21 balls, holding out to a Thisara Perera delivery.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq threw out his cricketing philosophy of patiently building an innings to play a Shahid Afridi-type cameo. He cleared the ropes at will and Pakistan looked like passing the 300 mark comfortably.
Misbah eventually held out of a poor delivery by Thisara Perera, trying one hit too many for 40 of just 26 balls.
Malinga was brought on and soon sent Shahid Afridi packing for 2, bowling his middle stump.
Umar Akmal joined Hafeez and went on rampage in the last five overs. Kulasekera and Malinga were taken to the cleaners rather comfortably to give Pakistan a formidable target to defend.
If Shrajah and the current series is anything to go by, this match is bound to be another humdinger but with Umar Gul back in the lineup, Pakistan sure have a death bowler specialist that skipper Misbah was craving for.
Pakistan 326 for 5 in 50 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 81, Mohammad Hafeez 140 *, Misbah-ul-Haq 40; Thisara Perera 2 for 58, Lasith Malinga 1 for 58) vs Sri Lanka.
Also on cricketcountry.com