Shocking Sri Lanka hammered in first ODI
Pakistan 132 for 2 (Younis 56*, Farhat 50) beat Sri Lanka 131 (Afridi 3-27, Ajmal 2-21) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sri Lanka's batsmen betrayed a shocking lack of stomach in moderately helpful conditions for the bowlers, to crash to an eight-wicket humbling in the first ODI in Dubai. After losing the toss, Pakistan rolled the years back with a vintage bowling display - their fast bowlers softened the prey, before the allrounders and spinners came on to make incisions. Sri Lanka responded with indecisive prods, and a rash of strokes each uglier than the previous. They were bowled out for 131 with 57 balls to spare, and Pakistan strolled home in the 22nd over of their chase to put an early end to the weekend crowd's evening.
Sri Lanka's train-wreck of an innings featured only five fours, all of which were hit within the first 20 overs, and three sixes. The last of those - a heave against hope hopen from Lasith Malinga - broke a boundary drought that had lasted nearly 20 overs. Such was the stranglehold Pakistan wielded in the middle overs, and their spin spearhead Saeed Ajmal had almost no role to play in it.
Only one man stood between Pakistan and the paltry chase, but Lasith Malinga wasn't at his best on his return to action. He overstepped twice in his first over, and went on to send down two more no-balls - one of them for height. His lines were inconsistent, and his famed yorker did not make an appearance at all. Suranga Lakmal's dismissal of Mohammad Hafeez gave Sri Lanka some hope, but Imran Farhat's free-scoring more than made up for the loss. Younis Khan too purred along smoothly with a series of typical whips and glances as Pakistan bolted to a 1-0 lead.
The felicity with which Pakistan made their runs put the conditions, and the earlier efforts of their bowling colleagues, in perspective. The strip had a wee bit in it for every kind of quick - Umar Gul's seam, Aizaz Cheema's swing and Abdul Razzaq's legcutters - and the Pakistan trio exploited it right from the get-go. Gul lay down the marker in the first over of the game, with a big swinging wide down the leg side, and an away seamer that bounced explosively past Tillakaratne Dilshan's attempted slash. Dilshan perfected the shot in first ball of the the next over, but perished four balls later when Cheema got one to buzz in sharply onto the stumps off the inside edge.
Despite being in prime form, Kumar Sangakkara could barely lay bat on ball. A rare couple of boundaries suggested a release, but they were promptly followed by a string of 19 successive dots. The returning Razzaq put Sangakkara out of his misery in his first over, coaxing an outside edge with a ball that angled across.
Hafeez then settled into a typically asphyxiating rhythm, mixing up arm balls with darts that straightened. Dinesh Chandimal counterpunched by launching Razzaq over long-on for six, before scything him through cover for four. The aggression wore off on Upul Tharanga, who had pottered around to 21 off 52 balls before slicing Hafeez for a boundary over the off side. He perished three balls later, hoicking rashly to mid-on, and sadly for Sri Lanka, the poor shot selection set in like an epidemic.
Shahid Afridi came on, his appetite for the limelight undiminished by his brief retirement. He tossed up four balls, the fourth of which Chandimal clattered over long-on for six. Afridi removed him with the next ball - the patent quicker one catching the batsman on the crease, followed by the trademark arms-aloft celebration. He then rapped Mahela Jayawardene on the pads, and had his vociferous appeal turned down. When he was captain, Afridi would have signalled the referral immediately, almost as an extension of the appeal. This time, he turned to Misbah-ul-Haq in the covers, nodding his head vigorously to convince him, before asking for a review. The referral went Sri Lanka's way, but little else did.
Angelo Mathews spent 31 balls at the crease without adjusting to Hafeez's lack of turn before running himself out. Kosala Kulaseakara, yet to open his account in his debut innings, chose to chip a full ball straight to mid-off. Jayawardene watched aghast as he kept losing partners, before contributing his bit to the madness by lapping Ajmal from outside off stump to short fine-leg. Sri Lanka's misery was complete soon after, with Afridi and Ajmal producing enough variety to brush aside the tail. Dilshan's men will need a drastic change in approach before the second game on November 14.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo