- By BV Swagath
Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets with 47 balls to spare in the rain-affected 1st ODI at Pallekele. The visitors needed to chase a paltry target of 135 from 42 overs which they did after facing minor hiccups early in their innings.
The run chase was derailed for Pakistan as Azhar Ali edged a Lasith Malinga outswinger in the 3rd over. Nuwan Kulasekara brought the hosts back in the game when he had Younis Khan bowled through the gate to leave Pakistan at 27 for 2 in the 8th over.
There was no chance for any more quick inroads for the homeside as Mohammad Hafeez settled down with his Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq to steady things. It was only in the 20th over that SL got their next breakthrough but by then Pakistan looked decent at 78 for 3. Hafeez (37 from 57 balls with 5 fours and a six) was the man to be dismissed when he got beaten by the turn and bounce off a Rangana Herath delivery. Hafeez was out stumped when he dragged his backfoot onto the crease.
Pakistan cruised through towards victory despite losing its third wicket. Umar Akmal played some handsome shots in his unbeaten 36 from 48 balls with 6 fours while Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq made a slow 30 (from 79 balls with 4 fours). With Pakistan needing just two more runs for a win, Misbah ran himself out after being sent back from a non-existing single from mid off.
Fast bowler Umar Gul got the Man of the Match award for setting up an easy victory for his team.
Sri Lanka struggle to reach 135/8:
Sri Lanka struggled to reach a paltry total of 135 for 8 in what turned out to be a 42-over contest at Pallekele in the opening ODI. The Sri Lankan innings saw as many as three rain breaks! It was a disastrous show from the Sri Lankan top order which was decimated by some excellent seam bowling from Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir.
The first mandatory powerplay saw Sri Lanka lose three wickets to Umar Gul. Dilshan was first to go in the 5th over miscuing his pull to mid on. Skipper Jayawardene was trapped lbw by a sharp indipper and Chandimal was the third victim of Umar Gul when he chopped a square cut onto the stumps leaving his side at 23 for 3.
Mohammad Sami joined the party to come up with two wickets that of Sangakkara (lbw to a yorker) and Mathews (caught edging a straight drive to slip) to have SL on the mat at 41 for 5 in the 15th over. The first rain interruption came in the 18th over with the hosts at 50 for 5. Before the next rain break at the end of the 24th over, Upul Tharanga departed following a dreadful shot attempted after leaving his crease to Mohammad Hafeez.
There was rain again and when play did resume, the match was reduced to a 42-over contest. Sri Lanka finished at 135 for 8 thanks to a 50-run stand between Lahiru Thirimanne (42* from 73 balls with 3 fours) and Nuwan Kulasekara (18 from 46 balls).
For the Pakistanis, Umar Gul with 3/24 (9 overs) and Mohammad Sami with 3/19 (6 overs) were the chief wreckers. Hafeez chipped in with 10 overs for just 20 runs alongside two key wickets.
Toss and Teams: Hosts Sri Lanka have won the toss and elected to bat first in the opening ODI at Pallekele against Pakistan. Both the teams have made a few changes to their line-ups compared to the ones used in the T20I Series. The average score batting first at the ground is around 240 and under lights, the pitch is expected to aid seam bowling. The average score batting second is just around 190 at this venue.
Sri Lanka: TM Dilshan, WU Tharanga, DPMD Jayawardene (Captain), LD Chandimal, KC Sangakkara (Wicket Keeper), HDRL Thirimanne, AD Mathews, NLTC Perera, HMRKB Herath, KMDN Kulasekara, SL Malinga
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (Captain), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed (Wicket Keeper), Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Sami