Arnold to the rescue again
Sri Lanka A 304 for 5 (Arnold 100*, Kalavitigoda 74) beat Pakistan A 300 (Afridi 63, Bilal 52*, Faisal 50) by 5 wickets with 5 balls to spare
For the second time in two days, Sri Lanka A were set a 301-run target. For the second time in two days, they overhauled it with a degree of comfort, thanks to Russel Arnold, who followed his 96 not out against India A with an unbeaten 100, as the Sri Lankans eked out a fine five-wicket win against Pakistan A in the second match of the Kenstar Tournament at the Eden Gardens.
Arnold came to the party after Shahid Afridi had led Pakistan A's effort with a blistering 47-ball 63. A target of 301 was a daunting one, but Arnold set about the task with the efficiency that had made him such a vital part of Sri Lanka's one-day outfit. Shantha Kalavitigoda (74), the opener, and Jehan Mubarak (42), batting at No. 3, made useful contributions at the top of the order to ensure that the Sri Lankans got off to a confident start - the 100 came up in just 16.1 overs.
With a solid foundation in place, Arnold then took over, flaying the Pakistan A attack with powerful cuts and pulls. His fifty came off 63 balls, and the century took only 40 more. Partnerships of 81 with Kalavitigoda and 62 with Naveed Nawaz (24) ensured that Sri Lanka A never lost the momentum in the middle overs despite a tight spell of offspin bowling by Mohammad Hafeez, who finished with 2 for 46 from 10 overs.
Earlier, Afridi's blitz set Pakistan A up for a mammoth total, but they lost their way somewhat in the middle. Afridi smashed three sixes and eight fours in his innings, helping the team to a hundred in a mere 12.3 overs. His dismissal slowed down the scoring rate, but at 180 for 3 in the 30th, a score in region of 320 was a distinct possibility.
However, Pakistan A then lost five wickets for 63 in the space of 13 overs, with Rangana Herath (3 for 52) doing the star turn. At 243 for 8, they were in danger of being bowled out inside 50 overs, but Bilal Asad bailed them out with an enterprising 52 not out from just 39 balls. On another day that might have been enough, but with Arnold in such awesome form, the Sri Lankans had all the answers.
The first round of matches will be completed on December 25, when India A take on Pakistan A. All three teams will play another round of matches with each other, with the top two teams then meeting in the final on December 30.