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SL snatch 36 run-win over Pak
Dambulla, JUL 30 (Agencies):
Published on 30 Jul. 2009 11:11 PM IST
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Dambulla: Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by 36 runs in the first ODI and race away to a 1-0 lead in the 5 match series. Needing 233 runs for victory, Pakistan made a heavy weather of the moderate target, managing just 196 runs in 44.4 overs, failing to survive even full quota of their stipulated overs. Pakistan had endured a fairly decent start as openers Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal added a brisk 29 runs for the opening wicket in 7 overs. However, once Malik (9 runs) was cleaned up by Kulasekara, Pakistan’s middle-order came a cropper against ruthless Sri Lankan attack. Akmal (20 runs) and Mohammad Yousuf (4 runs) fell in quick succession to Thushara and Kulasekara, before the former returned to remove a dangerous looking Shahid Afridi and Pakistan captain Younis Khan (12 runs) and leave Pakistan reeling at 78/5, mid-way through the 19th over. Afridi, having raced away to 27 runs, was beginning to look ominous for the home team before succumbing to his age old temptation to fiddle with a ball wide outside his off-stump. His lit up the picturesque Dambulla ground with a six and a four. Misbah-ul-Haq prodded around for just 9 runs before Muttiah Muralitharan, on a comeback trail, plucked out a caught and bowled attempt and evaporate all realistic hopes of a Pakistan victory. Fawad Alam (31 runs) and Abdul Razzaq (17 runs) did try to make a match out of it but the pressure to cope with the climbing asking rate proved a bit too much. Lusty blows from Umar Gul (33 runs off 21 balls) and Mohammad Aamer (23 runs off 26 balls) did induce some artificial excitement, but in the end, the 233 run target proved to be a bridge too far. Thushara was the chief wicket-taker with 3/29 from 8 overs while Kulasekara and Murlitharan returned with figures of 2/30 and 2/46 respectively. In the morning, some disciplined bowling display by Pakistan them restrict Sri Lanka to a moderate score of 232/9. Sri Lankans had Murlitharan, who chipped in with a whirlwind 32 run cameo of just 15 balls, to thank for their total offered a semblance of respectability. Put into bat, the hosts struggled for momentum throughout their innings, and their every attempt to break the shackle, ended with both the openers Upal Tharanga (17 runs) and Sanath Jayasuriya (15 runs) back in the hut with the scoreboard reading 45 runs. Captain Kumara Sangakkara, along with Jayawardene, then tried to revive the Lankan innings with former indulging in some particularly sublime stroke-play. However, just as the duo seemed to have revived his team’s flagging fortunes, Sangakkara fell for 36 runs. Saeed Ajmal provided the vital breakthrough in the 22nd over, with the score at a paltry 93. Kapugedera and Samarveera failed to create much impact as Pakistan bowlers further tightened the noose. The pressure of salvaging the innings single-handedly was immense and for once, Jayawardene wilted. An unfortunate run-out brought an untimely end to his renaissance efforts as Sri Lanka plunged further to further crisis. He made 33 runs during his 56 ball stay. Angelo Matthews (43) and Kulasekara (16) then raised a steady 42 run association and the Sri Lankan innings seemed to be meandering towards a score in the 200 region, before Murlitharan exploded spectacularly to provide the much needed impetus. For Pakistan, Aamer was the most successive bowler, picking 3/45 from his 10 overs.

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