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The Report by Abhishek Purohit
December 27, 2013
Sri Lanka 235 for 8 (Chandimal 64*, Junaid 3-31) beat Pakistan 232 (Misbah 51, Malinga 4-57) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It had been widely noted that Dinesh Chandimal hadn't made an ODI fifty in nearly a year. He chose a thriller to end the drought, guiding Sri Lanka home in the last over, with the No. 10 Ajantha Mendis for company. Sri Lanka went into the Tests with a scoreline of 2-3, but it could easily have been 1-4.
Pakistan made the target of 233 look like 333, despite Kusal Perera's quick 47 at the start. They absorbed those early blows, and came back with venom, their spinners tying Sri Lanka down and their fast bowlers taking crucial wickets. Chandimal and Mendis battled through all that pressure to engineer a win from 195 for 8, their unbroken stand of 40 coming in only 4.1 overs.
It had looked all but over for Sri Lanka when Pakistan nipped out three wickets in three overs, and 38 were needed off 27 balls. Saeed Ajmal, who took two of those three wickets, then seemed to have effectively ended the game when Mendis was given out leg-before first ball in the 46th over. But even as Mendis started to walk away, Chandimal persuaded him to review. Over half of the ball was shown to have landed outside leg stump, and Mendis survived.
Sri Lanka then took nine off Junaid in the 47th over, Chandimal continuing to hustle between the wickets and pulling a four. Next up was Ajmal's last over. Sri Lanka could have opted to play safe and targetted the last 12 deliveries, but Mendis went after Ajmal. And then came the moment where Pakistan let it slip. Mendis hit an airy drive to cover's left, but Sohaib Maqsood could not hold on to the sharp chance. Not only did Mendis escape a second time, he ran two. He then opened up and cracked a reverse-sweep for four off the last ball of the over.
Sri Lanka still needed 18 off 12, but the issue was sealed in the penultimate over. Chandimal got underneath Umar Gul's first delivery and swung it for six over deep midwicket. Not to be outdone, Mendis stepped out and lofted Gul for six over extra cover three balls later. Game over. With two needed off the final three balls, Mendis hit the winning runs with a slap over extra cover and let out a scream.
The match seemed heading for an early finish when Perera pulled four sixes in Sanath Jayasuriya style on his way to 47 off 41. His opening stand with Tillakaratne Dilshan was worth 75 in 12.2 overs but Pakistan got the opening when Perera tried a reverse-sweep Mohammad Hafeez and was lbw.
The spinners found turn and the runs dried up. Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara tried finding release against the pace of Junaid but succumbed. When Junaid pulled up to leave the field, Gul arrived to complete the 31st over, and induced Ashan Priyanjan to edge to the wicketkeeper first ball. Angelo Mathews was given caught behind as well, on review off Anwar Ali, with replays not indicating an inside edge onto pad but the two sounds settling it for third umpire Richard Illingworth.
Sri Lanka teetered on the brink of defeat losing a clutch of late wickets, but Chandimal kept knocking the ball around and held his nerve along with Mendis.
It was a gutting end for Pakistan, especially for Anwar. Drafted in for the final match, he clubbed an unbeaten 41 off 38 to lift Pakistan to a fighting 232 after they had slipped to 194 for 8.
Sri Lanka's attack finally turned up in the series, Lasith Malinga picking up four wickets. Barring the end, Pakistan rarely got going and when they did, they lost wickets to lose whatever momentum they had managed to build.
Misbah-ul-Haq's departure came the next ball after he had swung Malinga for six over deep midwicket to reach his 15th half-century in 32 innings in 2013. The leading ODI run-getter of the year had just showed signs of kicking on from a watchful start but his dismissal and Umar Akmal's in the next over, meant Pakistan's long tail had to bat out the last ten overs.
Coming in at No. 7 in the absence of Shahid Afridi, Anwar managed to do that. He was on 7 when he was put down at slip by Mathews off Mendis in the 42nd over. He was then given out lbw in the 47th over off Malinga, but reviewed successfully, the ball shown to be missing leg stump on replays. He responded by lofting Malinga for successive boundaries in the 49th over, which went for 16.
The late push meant Pakistan had a reasonable score to defend on a track that Mathews, at the toss, had expected to play slow. He had read the pitch superbly, for he opened the bowling with his medium-pace and went on to concede just 26 off ten overs, also dislodging the seemingly irremovable Hafeez for 41 with an incutter.
Hafeez, the Man of the Series, hit back with the ball by removing Perera, but Chandimal, after quite some time, showed again why he is considered such a bright prospect.
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