By BV Swagath
An all-round show from Angelo Mathews – 0/41 in 10 overs followed up by a superb unbeaten knock of 80 helped Sri Lanka clinch a thrilling victory over Pakistan in the Final ODI. Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by a narrow margin of two wickets with two balls to spare to clinch the ODI Series 3-1.
Needing 248 to win, Sri Lanka were pegged back early by Sohail Tanvir, who claimed the wickets of the opening batsmen – Tillakaratne Dilshan (bowled after playing all around a full delivery in a flick shot) and Upul Tharanga (clean bowled by a delivery that was angled in but held its line). The homeside from 19 for 2 in 6 overs recovered steadily through a 78-run stand between Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal.
Sri Lanka suffered a massive double blow in the 25th over when Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were dismissed in consecutive deliveries! Sangakkara (40 from 68 balls with 3 fours) was given stumped out when he thought he had nudged Afridi’s delivery past the turf on the off side and looked to set off for a run. However, the Keeper Sarfraz Ahmed smartly stopped the ball with his glove and whipped off the bails to find Sanga short of his crease. That dismissal was given as stumped out though by the Umpires. In the very next ball, Skipper Jayawardene was early in pushing at a flighted delivery from Afridi which he tamely patted it back to the bowler!
It was huge pressure for the Lankans at 97 for 4 but young Chandimal repaired the damage somehow with a half century. In the 34th over, Dinesh Chandimal (54 from in an attempted big shot holed out to long on off Mohammad Hafeez’s bowling. In the next over, Sri Lanka slipped to 138 for 6 with Thisara Perera run out after being sent back by Angelo Mathews in an attempted single.
The hosts got a useful stand to come back in the game as specialist batsman Lahiru Thirimanne came in as low as no.8 to steady things along with Mathews. The pair took Sri Lanka to 175 in the 41st over before Thirimanne (11) got run out at the batting end trying to steal a non-existent single for Mathews.
The match seemed to be over at 175 for 7 but left-handed Jeevan Mendis provided the surprise element of the Sri Lankan innings by whacking a six and a couple of fours to provide fresh hopes as the required run rate came down to a manageable level. In the 47th over, Jeevan Mendis (19 from 20 balls) got out when he smacked a short ball from Sohail Tanvir to extra covers leaving Sri Lanka at 212 for 8.
Sri Lanka eventually needed 15 runs to win from the final over to be bowled by a nervous Mohammad Sami. The second ball of the over went for a six from Mathews straight down the ground to change the game in SL’s favour. Mathews finished the match with a boundary over covers in the fourth ball. The all-rounder remained unbeaten on 80 from 76 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes to get the Man of the Match award.
For the Pakistanis, Sohail Tanvir with 3 for 42 in 10 overs, Mohammad Hafeez with 10-0-30-1 and Shahid Afridi with 10-0-48-2 did a good job. But it was Mohammad Sami, who spoilt all their hard work by conceding as many as 75 runs in 9.4 overs. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this happens to be Mohammad Sami’s last ODI of his career!
Pakistan restricted to 247/7
Pakistan batting surely improved as they posted a healthy total of 247 for 7 in the final ODI at Colombo. However, the visitors could only collect 56 runs in their last 10 overs as the momentum shifted big time towards the Sri Lankans.
The visitors went in with a new opening combination in the form of Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez. It was yet another failure for Hafeez (6 from 13 balls) as he got cleaned up through the gate by Nuwan Kulasekara in the 6th over. The other opener Imran Farhat was on song despite the fact that he was only playing his first game of this tour! Farhat (56 from 63 balls with 9 fours) got to a busy half century but threw his wicket away in the 19th over pulling a Thisara Perera delivery to deep mid wicket.
Pakistan consolidated after losing their second wicket with Azhar Ali being joined by Asad Shafiq. The two youngsters took Pakistan to a steady score of 113 in 25 overs before Azhar Ali (30 from 49 balls) drove leggie Jeevan Mendis into the hands of covers. Asad Shafiq (38 from 46 balls with 4 fours) departed after sometime in the 33rd over when he was trying to steal a risky run for his Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. Umar Akmal, who came in next teamed up with Misbah-ul-Haq (32 from 48 balls) to take Pakistan past the 200-run mark with a solid partnership. Just when the slogs started, Misbah lost his wicket when he heaved Jeevan Mendis to deep mid wicket.
Next man in after Misbah - Shahid Afridi (9) failed to do any damage and left it to Umar Akmal to finish things for Pakistan. Umar Akmal remained unbeaten on 55 from 61 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes and towards the end struggled to cope up with the slower balls from Lasith Malinga (10-1-52-1) and Nuwan Kulasekara (10-1-53-2). Apart from these two, Angelo Mathews with 0/41 in 10 overs and Jeevan Mendis with 2 for 30 in 9 overs did a fabulous job for Sri Lanka.
Toss and Teams: Pakistan have won the toss and elected to bat first in the Fifth and final ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The visitors, who are in do-or-die situation with a series deficit of 1-2, have made two changes by dropping the experienced Younis Khan and Saeed Ajmal. In their place come Imran Farhat and Mohammad Sami. Sri Lanka have made one change by replacing left-arm spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon with leg spinner Jeevan Mendis.
Sri Lanka: TM Dilshan, WU Tharanga, DPMD Jayawardene (Captain), LD Chandimal, KC Sangakkara (Wicket Keeper), HDRL Thirimanne, AD Mathews, NLTC Perera, KMDN Kulasekara, SL Malinga, BMAJ Mendis
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Imran Farhat, Misbah-ul-Haq (Captain), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed (Wicket Keeper), Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Sami