DAMBULLA - Strong Sri Lanka inflicted a splendid seven-wicket defeat on Pakistan in the final ODI to clinch the series here at the Dambulla International Cricket Stadium Saturday.
Sri Lankans were in great form as they earlier beat England in the Test series and then carved out sensational victory in Test series against Pakistan to give their legendary cricketer Mahela Jayawerdene a remarkable farewell on his last Test. Before the commencement of the series decider too, the Lankans seemed very energetic and were confident to win the series while on the other hand, the management were in a fix over combination of final squad and the team was under pressure due to the second ODI defeat.
Chasing the target of 101 in 48 overs, Sri Lanka took a brilliant start and punished Pakistani bowler at will and kept the scoreboard busy. Both Thranga and Dilshan slammed 46 runs for the first-wicket partnership. In the last ball of the seventh over, lanky pacer M Irfan got the wicket of Thranga at 46 when he was playing at 14 off 17 balls.
Wahab Riaz removed Kumar Sangakkara when he played five balls for two runs. Despite bowling out cheaply, the Sri Lankan spectators gave him a standing ovation when he came near to pavilion. Jayawardene was the third victim of Pakistani bowling who was sent to the pavilion by Saeed Ajmal on his personal score of 26 runs. Dilshan played sparkling unbeaten innings of 50 runs off 55 balls.
Earlier, when Pakistan chose to bat first after winning the toss, the decision backfired as top and middle order flopped unceremoniously and couldn't help the team pile up a good total to defend the series decider. Pakistan lost the first three wickets cheaply as the score was 14-3 in 7.3 overs. Sharjeel was the first victim who gifted his wicket to Prasad scoring no run. Aggressive batsman Ahmad Shahzad gave away his wicket playing very ordinary shot and was caught out at the hands of Perera off Prasad. He managed to score 10 runs off 21 balls. Then Malinga sent M Hafeez to the pavilion on his personal score of one run off 16 balls. Misbah and Fawad Alam then strived to resist the Lankan bowlers as they kept the scorebaord busy. When everything was going smoothly, Fawad's wrong call of taking a single cost Misbah dearly. The captain played 30 balls to score 18 runs. When he was run out, the team's total was 47-4 in 15.5 overs.
After the dismissal of captain, it was Umar Akmal who came to the crease and started his innings very carefully because throughout the ODI series against Lanka, he failed to leave a mark. He managed to open his account after six dot balls but soon after smashing a six, he played a wrong shot on shot pitch delivery and was caught out by Malinga on the ball of Perera. This careless attitude of Umar can ruin his career as time and again, he was being suggested to stay at the crease for long and play sensibly but as usual, Umar did the same and lost his wicket cheaply scoring seven off nine balls.
Sohaib Maqsood came to the crease at number seven. Everyone was expecting a brilliant knock from him as he along with Fawad guided the team to a well-deserving triumph in the first ODI. But this time, Sohaib disappointed the nation because he was under pressure due to flop batting by top and middle order. After scoring seven runs on nine deliveries, he was caught out by Sangakkara on Perera's ball. The team's total was 76-6 in 22.2 overs.
The lucky ground of Dambulla this time didn't favour Shahid Afridi who just played four balls to make two runs. Wahab also bowled out cheaply as couldn't open his account. When Ajmal and Fawad were on the crease, the rain hit the match in 26th overs and it was stopped when Pakistan were struggling at 81-8. Later, when the match was resumed, Ajmal gave away his wicket to Perera. He played 15 balls to score six runs while the total was 88-9 in 28.2nd over. For the last-wicket stand, Fawad and M Irfan added 14 runs to take the team's total to 100 plus. Fawad was the top scorer for Pakistan as he remained unbeaten for 38 runs off 73 balls. Only three Pakistani batsmen reached the double figures which clearly exposes the pathetic batting of green shirts which needs a complete overhaul. Perera remained the most successful bowler of Sri Lanka who grabbed four wickets for 34 runs and he was ably assisted by Prasad who took two wickets for 25 runs while Malinga, Herath and Prasana got one wicket each. It was Pakistan's lowest one-day total on Sri Lankan soil, falling below the 116 they made against New Zealand at the same venue in 2003.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said it was not a difficult wicket to bat on. "There was a bit of tennis-ball bounce, but we should still have scored about 240-250 runs," Misbah said. "We lost too many wickets early and could not get a decent total." Misbah hoped Pakistan will perform better in their next Test and one-day series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates in October. "That is a really important series and we need to find the right combination ahead of the World Cup," he said.
Sri Lanka's captain Angelo Mathews said his team showed character to bounce back after losing the first match of the series in Hambantota. "We had to pull up our socks after that loss and we did that quite well," he said. "We gave Thisara (Perera) more opportunities in the series and he proved himself with both bat and ball."
Ahmed Shehzad c Perera b Prasad 10
Sharjeel Khan c Jayawardene b Prasad 0
M Hafeez lbw b Malinga 1
Misbah-ul Haq run out 18
Fawad Alam not out 38
Umar Akmal c Malinga b Perera 7
Sohaib Maqsood c Sangakkara b Perera 7
Shahid Afridi c Perera b Prasanna 2
Wahab Riaz c Sangakkara b Perera 0
Saeed Ajmal c Jayawardene b Perera 6
M Irfan b Herath 5
EXTRAS: (lb1, w6, nb1) 8
TOTAL: (all out, 32.1 overs) 102
FOW: 1-4, 2-14, 3-14, 4-47, 5-55, 6-73, 7-76, 8-77, 9-88, 10-102
BOWLING: Prasad 6-0-25-2, Malinga 7-2-17-1, Mathews 5-0-11-0, Herath 2.1-0-6-1, Perera 8-1-34-4, Prasanna 4-1-8-1.
U Tharanga b Irfan 14
T Dilshan not out 50
K Sangakkara c Hafeez b Riaz 2
M Jayawardene c Hafeez b Ajmal 26
A Mathews not out 0
EXTRAS: (lb7, w5) 12
TOTAL: (3 wkts, 18.2 overs) 104
FOW: 1-46, 2-59, 3-100
BOWLING: Irfan 7-0-37-1, Riaz 6-1-42-1, Ajmal 4-0-10-1, Afridi 1.2-0-8-0
UMPIRES: Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI) and S. Ravi (IND)
TV UMPIRE: Steve Davis (AUS)
MATCH REFEREE: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)