Pakistan Lose Opening Match of Asia Cup

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Defending Champions Fall Short by 12 Runs

Sri Lanka’s total of 296 proved a touch too far for Pakistan despite a courageous partnership between Umar Akmal and Misbah-Ul-Haq. Lasith Malinga’s late burst sealed a 12 run win in the Asia Cup opener.

Sri Lanka started their innings brightly as Pakistan opted to open the bowling with Umar Gul and Mohammad Hafeez. Gul found some early movement with the new ball and thought he had Perera lbw in the sixth over but the ball looked to be going over the stumps. However in his next over, he generated a bit of extra bounce which caught the edge of Perera’s bat and the opener was sent om his way for 14.

Kumar Sangakkara joined Thirimanne at the crease and the two left-handers took the attack to the Pakistani bowlers, unfurling a succession of fluent drives to regain the initiative after the loss of the early wicket. It was not all plain-sailing, with Bilawal Bhatti having an lbw shout rightfully turned down against Thirimanne as the ball had pitched outside leg stump, and an Ajmal doosra also nearly snuck through, the ball only just missing the stumps. Thirimanne swept Hafeez for six in the 31st over before Umar Gul ended a strong partnership by removing Sangakkara who pulled a short ball to midwicket. The two had added 161 runs in 24 overs, at a run rate of 6.61.

Thirimanne brought up a magnificent 107-ball century but was bowled by Saeed Ajmal a few overs later and Sri Lanka had lost both of their set batsmen in the space of four overs.

Mahela Jayawardene and Captain Angelo Mathews came together with the score on 204/3 and 15 overs to go and hopes of a massive total. Mathews hit Ajmal for consecutive boundaries – a four and a six over long-on – in the 38th over and Sri Lanka looked to be achieving exactly that.

However Shahid Afridi removed Mahela Jayawardene (13), the experienced right-hander succumbing like many have before him attempting a cut shot off Afridi and only managing to play on. He struck again, deceiving Perera (6) with the wrong ‘un and holing out in the deep. Chaturanga de Silva was run out for 2 in the 44th over after some indecisive calling by the batsmen but despite some lusty blows from Dinesh Chandimal (19 off 19 balls) and Angelo Mathews (55 off 50 balls), Sri Lanka were kept to below 300, ending up with 296/6 as the batsmen struggled to clear the ropes in the death overs bowled by Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal.



Pakistan got off to a mixed start to the innings, with the aggressive Sharjeel collecting a number of boundaries and Ahmed Shehzad looking a little more circumspect. In the sixth over, Sharjeel Khan swept Senanayake for six to give the Pakistan run chase some impetus but the left-hander fell in the very next over, pulling a Lakmal bouncer straight to mid-on for an enterprising 26 off 23 balls which included four fours and one six. However, it was another low score for the young opener and the Pakistani think-tank will hope their support will pay off with a big score at some point.

Hafeez was the next man in but it was Ahmed Shehzad (28) who departed with the partnership just one run shy of 50 as de Silva picked up his first ODI wicket with a ball that went straight on and through the gate. Hafeez (18) was out in the next over however after being trapped lbw by Mathews.

Maqsood(17) and Misbah consolidated and scored 38 runs in a 10-over partnership before Maqsood pulled a long-hop by Senanayake to midwicket, adding to his increasing list of soft dismissals.

In came Umar Akmal to join Misbal-ul-Haq, with the score on 121/4 and Pakistan still needing 176 runs to win. The two batsmen scored 121 runs off just 19 overs to bring Pakistan back into the game. There was a big shout against Misbah when an edge was not given by the umpire, with replays suggesting the Sri Lankans were right to feel aggrieved. Akmal (74 off 72) at the other end was on a roll, hitting Lakmal for consecutive fours and a six in the 41st and de Silva for two boundaries in the following over. He couldn’t kerb his aggression however, and played one shot too many, edging Lakmal behind to keeper Sangakkara.

Afridi (4) came and went in the 45th over and Misbah (73 off 84) departed just two balls later, looking to hoik onto the legside and was caught in the deep to leave Pakistan on 254/7, still needing 43 runs and the equation had shifted into Sri Lanka’s favour.

A leading edge by Gul off Malinga left Pakistan needing 34 off the final three overs and 17 runs off the 48th over gave Pakistan a glimmer of hope, but Malinga (5/52) had the final say as he trapped Ajmal lbw and then bowled Bhatti to claim a five wicket haul and the match for Sri Lanka.

Pakistan did well to restrict Sri Lanka to a total below 300 after Thirimanne had scored a wonderful century. The top order all got starts but failed to push on to a big score and despite Misbah and Umar Akmal playing Pakistan into a strong position, the lower order crumbled in the face of some outstanding death bowling by Lasith Malinga.

 By PakPassion


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