October 9, 2000

Pakistan humble Sri Lanka to reach the Semis

They say the most effective way of putting breaks on the opposition's run rate is to take wickets. That's exactly what Pakistan did yesterday in their match against Sri Lanka.

Although we did see some ferocious hitting from the Sri Lankan captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, in the opening oversthe two sixes he hit off Wasim Akram over deep point boundary were shots that only the likes of Jayasuriya could execute, but all this was short-lived. Wasim avenged his humiliation by tempting Jayasuriya with one outside the off stump only to see Moin taking a simple catch behind the stumps.

Earlier he had dismissed the dangerous Gunawardene by clean bowling him in his second over. In the very next over Azhar Mahmood got rid of Marvin Atapattu by producing a perfect leg-cutter that was hard to avoid.

It was at this point that Jayasuriya cut loose. He, along with Jayawardene, scored at more than 6 runs an over to take the total to 76 before he was trapped by Wasim.

After the fall of the fifth Lankan wicket (Jayawardene) at the total of 100, the writing seemed very much on the wall for Sri Lanka. However, a partnership of 56 for the sixth wicket between Russell Arnold and Ramesh Kaluwitharana bought the much-needed respectability to their score.

The Sri Lankan tail, however, just had not much against some accurate Pakistan attack. Their last four wickets added just 38 in the next about 10 overs, and when Wasim Akram shattered Muralitharan's stump in the 46th over, they were all out for 194.

Pakistan bowling, led by Waseem, was very much on target. Whereas Abdul Razzaq proved very economical in his ten overs, Saqlain, returning to the Pakistan team after his long stint with English county Surrey, made life miserable for the batsmen with his customary off-breaks and what they call the "wrong ones".

All the Pakistani bowlers were among the wickets except the off-spinner Arshad Khan. Waseem Akram was the most successful with 3 for 40, followed by Azhar (3/52), Saqlain (2/30), and Abdul Razzaq (1/30).

Pakistani openers, Saeed Anwar and Imran Nazir, played sensibly while chasing the not-so-daunting a target of 195. They were a living picture of the coach Javed Miandad as they defended the good deliveries and punished the loose ones.

Looking at the confidence and command with which Saeed and Imran were grafting their innings, the target seemed even less formidable and it seemed very likely that they would not bother the other Pakistani batsmen to come to the crease. Had it been not for the impatience shown by the two, which led to the unfortunate run out of Imran Nazir, this expectation was certain to be fulfilled.

With the fall of young Nazir at the individual score of 40 scored off 47 balls, Yousaf Youhana joined Saeed Anwar. These two relied mostly on one's and two's leading Pakistan steadily closer to victory.

When Pakistan required about 15 runs to win, Saeed was 10 runs short of his 18th century. However, he ensured that he was not going to be another Alec Stewart and Youhana not another Graeme Hick. He reached his hundred, which had eluded him for quite some time now, throwing Upul Chandana out of the long-on boundary for a six and, at the same time, winning the match for his country. Yousaf Youhana remained not out on 42 scored off 84 balls.

Pakistan now meet the winner of the third quarter-final which is being played between New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

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