There was a big cloud hanging over Mohammad Hafeez ahead of the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Dambulla. He had managed only returns of 98 runs and three wickets in four innings before missing the series-deciding Test in Pallekele, to undergo tests on his bowling action. He replied by getting impressive drift, turn and bounce, claiming his personal best figures of 4 for 41 in 10 overs, including a maiden, to dent Sri Lanka . However, Dinesh Chandimal struck an unbeaten 65 off 68 balls to repair the innings and later tug the hosts past the 250-mark from a jittery 118 for 4.

Hafeez rolled into action right away, after Sri Lanka were inserted on a pitch with a tinge of grass. Kusal Perera. Left-hand batsman. Gone off the third ball. Hafeez would cap his spell with the wicket of another left-hand batsman, Thisara Perera, off his last ball. Chandimal, profiting from controlled bottom-handed heaves and slog-sweeps, led the final push. The crowd danced to his rhythm, bounding in the papare, as Sri Lanka eventually snatched the momentum.

Chandimal's previous ODI innings - 52 off 24 balls - relied more on muscle and nearly pulled the rug from under Australia's feet in the World Cup before he was out injured. This was a more measured innings, aided by good support from Angelo Mathews. The pair nudged and nurdled the ball into the gaps during an 82-run partnership for the fifth wicket. They were also keen to put the bad balls away and found release through the occasional offbreaks of Shoaib Malik and Yasir Shah, who was not as threatening as he was during the Tests.

Mohammad Irfan, though, returning to the ODI team after recovering from a stress fracture of the pelvis suffered during the World Cup, bustled in and set the tone in the morning. Bowling with the wind, Irfan generated trampolining bounce and zip, often clocking speeds north of 140kph. Azhar Ali let him rip in short spells; Irfan had the batsmen and Sarfraz Ahmed swaying and slithering before Hafeez made the incisions.

After nabbing Kusal, Hafeez undid another left-hand batsman in Upul Tharanga with sharp turn. Two overs later, Hafeez bowled Tillakaratne Dilshan with some subtle variation in flight and length. Dilshan's innings was scratchy: he threw his bat at balls outside off which swerved past the outside edge, he skewed attempted off-side drives through midwicket, and his score at various points read 3 off 9, 19 off 35, and 35 off 58 before he was dismissed for 38 off 65 balls.

Dilshan could have been dismissed much earlier on 2 in the third over had Irfan not overstepped before Sarfraz snaffled a heathy nick. The next ball, a Free Hit, was flapped straight into the lap of mid-on. But Dilshan could not push on. His opening partner, Kusal Perera, was also left nursing a failed start.

Rahat Ali and Anwar Ali fed Kusal with width as he unleashed jabbing punches and drives in the arc between point and mid-off. But the promise did not grow into substance. Lahiru Thirimanne and Tharanga did not fare any better either, giving it away for 23 and 20.

The fabled pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene was not around, but Mathews and Chandimal did eventually convert the team's promise into substance. However, just as Sri Lanka shaped for a late surge, Yasir logged himself into the wickets column off his last ball when he forced a top edge from Mathews to long-on for 38 off 54. Rahat produced a double-strike in the penultimate over but Chandimal's half-century and a spunky cameo from debutant allrounder Milinda Siriwardana meant that Sri Lanka ended with a competitive total on the pitch that was not conducive to strokeplay.

Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo

Line-ups for the first One Day International between Sri Lanka and Pakistan on Saturday in Dambulla, Sri Lanka . Pakistan won toss and decided to bowl

Sri Lanka : Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (capt), Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga

Pakistan:  Azhar Ali (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan                                         

Referees:  Ian Gould (Umpire), Ranmore Martinesz (Umpire), Rod Tucker (TV umpire), Javagal Srinath (Match referee)

Scoreboard: 1st Innings

First One Day International between Sri Lanka and Pakistan on Saturday in Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Innings

K. Perera c Rizwan b Hafeez 26

T. Dilshan b Hafeez 38

L. Thirimanne c S. Ahmed b An. Ali 23

U. Tharanga st S. Ahmed b Hafeez 20

A. Mathews c B. Azam b Shah 38

D. Chandimal not out 65

T. Perera c Rizwan b Hafeez 1

M. Siriwardana c Rizwan b R. Ali 22

S. Prasanna c Hafeez b R. Ali 0

L. Malinga not out 4 

Extras (b-4 lb-7 nb-1 w-6) 18

Total (for 8 wickets, 50 overs) 255

Fall of wickets: 1-44 K. Perera,2-82 L. Thirimanne,3-111 U. Tharanga,4-118 T. Dilshan,5-200 A. Mathews,6-204 T. Perera,7-244 M. Siriwardana,8-245 S. Prasanna

Did not bat: S. Lakmal

Bowling

M. Irfan 10 - 0 - 41 - 0(nb-1 w-1)

R. Ali 8 - 0 - 44 - 2(w-1)

An. Ali 7 - 0 - 38 - 1

M. Hafeez 10 - 1 - 41 - 4(w-1)

Y. Shah 10 - 0 - 46 - 1

S. Malik 5 - 0 - 34 - 0(w-3) 

Referees

Umpire: Ian Gould

Umpire: Ranmore Martinesz

TV umpire: Rod Tucker

Match referee: Javagal Srinath