HAMBANTOTA - Sohaib Maqsood and Fawad Alam put on a 147-run stand as Pakistan recovered from the brink to defeat Sri Lanka by four wickets on Saturday and take the lead in the three-match series. The tourists, chasing a Duckworth-Lewis target of 275 in 45 overs, fought back after being 106-5 to scrape home off the penultimate ball of the match in Hambantota.
Maqsood remained unbeaten on a glorious 89 off 73 balls as Shahid Afridi smashed the winning boundary off seamer Nuwan Kulasekara to the point fence. Alam was dismissed for 62 by Lasith Malinga when 22 still remained for victory off the last three overs, but Maqsood and Afridi battled on to help Pakistan record a good win. Sri Lanka had made 275-7 after being sent in to bat in overcast conditions, but rain after six overs of their innings reduced the game from a full 50-overs-a-side contest to 45. Opener Ahmed Shehzad scored 49 but no other top-order batsman settled in to make a big score till Maqsood and Alam turned the game Pakistan's way. "This is one of the best partnerships I have seen, especially by two young batsmen," Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said. "We lost our way a bit, but Fawad and Maqsood made a good recovery."
The 27-year-old Maqsood, who was named man of the match, said the plan was for him to attack, while Alam rotated the strike. "This is obviously a special knock since I was playing an international match after a few months," he said. "Hopefully, I will continue to do well in the remaining matches and help Pakistan win the series."
Earlier, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews smashed 89 off 85 balls and Mahela Jayawardene made 63 to give their side a seemingly commanding total. Jayawardene, 37, who retired from Tests earlier this week to concentrate on one-day cricket till next year's World Cup, hit eight boundaries in his 73rd half-century in the shorter format. Sri Lanka slumped to 75-4 by the 18th over before Jayawardene and Mathews put on 116 for the fifth wicket.
Mathews hit nine fours in his best score in one-day cricket, but it was Ashan Priyanjan's unbeaten 39 off 15 balls at the end that bossted the total. Mathews said Maqsood made the difference in Pakistan's win. "I don't think we did too much wrong," he said. "The wicket played well and, more often than not, the bowlers do the job for us when we get 250-plus. But the brilliance of Maqsood did it."
Lanky left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, who stands at seven feet, one inch (2.16 metres), generated good bounce from the moisture-laden pitch to claim two wickets for 48 runs. Wahab Riaz, one of the three left-arm seamers for Pakistan alongside Irfan and Junaid Khan, took three for 50. The tourists were without their top spinner Saeed Ajmal, who has flown to Australia to undergo tests of his bowling action after being reported by the umpires during the preceding Test series which Sri Lanka swept 2-0.
U Tharanga c Akmal b Riaz 18
T Dilshan lbw b Irfan 6
K Sangakkara c Shehzad b Hafeez 25
M Jayawardene run out 63
D Chandimal c Riaz b Irfan 6
A Mathews b Riaz 89
T Perera b Riaz 13
A Priyanjan not out 39
N Kulasekara not out 3
EXTRAS: (lb3, w10) 13
TOTAL: (7 wkts, 45 overs) 275
FOW: 1-16, 2-55, 3-55, 4-75, 5-191, 6-228, 7-247
BOWLING: Irfan 9-0-48-2, Junaid 9-1-75-0, Riaz 9-0-50-3, Hafeez 8-0-32-1, Afridi 9-0-57-0, Alam 1-0-10-0
Ahmed Shehzad b Perera 49
M Hafeez lbw b Mathews 21
Younus Khan c Kulasekara b Mathews 3
Umar Akmal c Malinga b Perera 15
Misbah-ul Haq c Sangakkara b Herath 13
Fawad Alam c Priyanjan b Malinga 62
Sohaib Maqsood not out 89
Shahid Afridi not out 14
EXTRAS: (b4, w7) 11
TOTAL: (6 wkts, 44.5 overs) 277
FOW: 1-39, 2-47, 3-79, 4-94, 5-106, 6-253
BOWLING: Malinga 9-0-60-1, Kulasekara 8.5-0-56-0, Mathews 9-0-48-2, Perera 7-0-43-2, Herath 9-0-49-1, Dilshan 2-0-17-0
MAN OF MATCH: Sohaib Maqsood
UMPIRES: Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI) and S. Ravi (IND)
TV UMPIRE: Steve Davis (AUS)
MATCH REFEREE: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)