Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Pallekele June 7, 2012

Seamers set up comfortable win for Pakistan


Pakistan 135 for 4 (Hafeez 37, Akmal 36*) beat Sri Lanka 135 for 8 (Thirimanne 42*, Gul 3-24, Sami 3-19) by six wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

It turned out to be a good toss to lose for Pakistan, as their seamers, led by Umar Gul, set up a comfortable six-wicket win by keeping Sri Lanka to a paltry 135. The ball nipped around, skidded, turned and bounced alarmingly and tested the technique and patience of the batsmen, with the cloudy conditions giving the bowlers an overwhelming advantage. Three rain interruptions in the first innings did little to help Sri Lanka's cause. They struggled to build momentum and sizeable partnerships, and following a lengthy rain interruption, the overs were culled to 42, leaving very few overs in the end to accelerate.

Pakistan too were tested by a probing opening spell by Sri Lanka's seamers, but they could afford to take their time and grind it out. Subcontinent pitches aren't known to produce too many low-scoring games, and based on the evidence so far in the three games on tour, watching the bowlers have a say has been compelling.

Runs off the bat were at a premium as Sri Lanka's top four failed to reach double-digits and their combined contribution was outscored by extras. It was a struggle, not just to pick the gaps but to put bat on ball. Sohail Tanvir's angle away from the right-hander kept Mahela Jayawardene playing and missing; Gul's bounce off a good length and incutters troubled Tillakaratne Dilshan, who looked like he hadn't yet shrugged off the Twenty20 hangover.

It was a battle of attrition at both ends. Sri Lanka had two of their most experienced accumulators at the crease - Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara - but the seamers found ways to avert a partnership. An indipper from Gul trapped Jayawardene lbw, before Dinesh Chandimal chopped one onto his stumps without using his feet.

The batsmen may have had their wallets nicked when they walked out to bat - they couldn't even buy a run. In the first ten overs, Pakistan didn't concede a run off the bat for 26 consecutive legal deliveries. In that period, the only source of runs was 13 wides. The first boundary off the bat - there were only six in all - came in the 12th over. Any semblance of a recovery was halted when Mohammad Sami nipped out two wickets in successive overs, leaving Sri Lanka five down at the 15th over.

Rain forced interruptions in the 18th over and again after the 24th. What followed after the second interruption were two of the most productive partnerships. Lahiru Thirimanne added 25 with Thisara Perera, and doubled that with Nuwan Kulasekara. It was still a battle for survival, and the frequent interruptions didn't help Sri Lanka's bid to find momentum to accelerate. Following the third rain interval, which stretched to an hour and a quarter, Sri Lanka had only five overs to bat out. Thirimanne slogged and swished at several deliveries and managed to fetch three boundaries, including one off the final ball. Subtracting the wides, Sri Lanka would have been defending a much lesser score.

Sri Lanka managed only six fours in their innings, hitting the first only in the 12th over. Pakistan hit their first four as early as the third ball, when Mohammad Hafeez punched Lasith Malinga past the covers. Malinga soon had Azhar Ali caught off a loose drive, and he continued to create half chances by shaping the ball away from the right-handers. Kulasekara posed questions by getting the ball to cut back in - his stock delivery - and one of those breached Younis Khan's defences, leaving Pakistan at 27 for 2.

The pressure created by that dismissal led to three consecutive maidens. Misbah-ul-Haq halted a run-drought that lasted 25 deliveries with a slash past point for four. While Hafeez gave Pakistan the edge with positive shots, including a lofted off-drive for six, what prevented Pakistan from imploding was Misbah's calm presence.

Pakistan were a batsman short, so it was imperative one senior player pitched a tent through the duration of the innings, which Misbah had all but achieved. It was a pressure-free scenario for Umar Akmal to play his strokes, as Pakistan coasted home to extend their recent domination over Sri Lanka, with their ninth win in 11 games.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricket on June 9, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    When will Pak stop playing with 6/7 bowlers ? the cannot chase an score if they are one batsman short , also please keep in mind that Y.Khan is a waste and U.Akmal is very eratic and un-reliable. What do the expect from this batting order ?

  • Cricket on June 9, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    Can someone please explain to me, What is Younis Khan doing in limited overs cricket ? . . I mean he is great in Test cricket, but he has always been a disaster in the limited overs cricket since the last 12 years (since he made his debute). Asad Shafiq is any time better than him. Also there are other younsters who need to be tested if you are to prepare for the next world cup. It looks that the Pakistan Board does not have the next world cup in mind.

  • CHRIS on June 9, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    What on earth are Sri Lankan team & management trying to do. SL were one of the top/best teams up until the World cup final. What in the God's name has happened to the team. They are like headless chickens. Come on have some pride and play for your motherland and the millions of people who are behind you in Sri Lanka. IPL has got to all of you I see. Very sad!!!!!!!!!

  • Wicky on June 9, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    @Raj934,certainly better than sachn scorng a tortursome hundrd against bd n getng thrashd out of tournament as usual,lolz

  • Nizam M. on June 9, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Saad Aftab writing his commentary here has a case in point, after all. Gloating over Pakistan's current form in the Bowling department and going ga-ga over just one ODI win over a slumping Sri Lanka, thanks to the bowlers, doesn't yet make Pakistan a formidable TEAM. "One swallow doesn't make a summer". A good TEAM is one which has balance in batting, bowling and fielding, coupled with the temperament to withstand pressure, sadly which Pakistan lacks!

    It would be premature to rest on the laurels earned in one low-scoring ODI with Sri Lanka, without any pressure situation, and think that it would be easy sailing ahead. "Delhi honuj dur'ast". Pakistan TEAM has to dig deep to bring out the best of their prowess in every department of the game before they are considered as a force to reckon with in the world of Cricket. Pakistan's current ICC rankings, - Test, ODT and T20- should be an eye opener for all. "Rome was not built in a day".

  • RAJ on June 9, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    MISBHA DID WORLD RECORD WHICH IS NOT BREAKABLE 20+Runs he scored and less than 30Runs in 80Balls wow PAK

  • RAJ on June 9, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    Great PAKISTAN made it clear that is there is no difference in TEST and ONE DAY just to score 135Runs PAK tooks 200+Balls with 3Wickets down wow wonderful those who are test crazy always watch PAK one day games...And Captain MR.MISBHA did a non-breaking record in one day by scoring 20+ RUNS and less than 30 in 80Balls wow unbreaking record......BY A PAK CAPTAIN.......MISBHA IS A GREAT...

  • Nizam M. on June 9, 2012, 2:18 GMT

    Pakistan's chink in the armoury is its frail and fragile batting. Pakistan's bowling attack, on its day probably the best in the world with speed, spin and variations, may not necessarily always click on all the occasions to rescue Pakistan with batsmen not being able to carve out defendable totals.

    Watching this ODI, I felt that Pakistani batsmen were bereft of both art and technique in scoring runs, even with such a low target! Laborious, grinding and generally grueling, Pakistani batting attack looked more or less out of sorts and out of nick. A flash-in-the-pan victory, especially after a Srilankan batting collapse,hardly offers anything else other than cold comfort for Pakistan, and nothing to be really elated and jubilant about. This batting line-up of Pakistan shall not be good enough for the World Cup.

  • Wicky on June 9, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    @Stark 62,we have way better young batsmen cming in future,bt nöne of them can b cmpard to misbha in terms of temprament,we need him desperately in tests bt also in odis to a certain extent.check out averages of youvraj,gambhir,raina,jayawerdna n then compare it with younis,cnsidrng formers have playd mostly on batng paradises throughout their carers,fact z pak's batsmen R nt secnd to lankans,indians,whild our bowlrs R way way ahead of these both n hence d difrence,pak z easily best asian side

  • Dummy4 on June 8, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    imo , i think that pakistan has the best bowling attack for the odis. In tests i think it's a tie between England , SA and Pakistan. Australia's attack is good but they don't have a quality spinner. I choose SA over australia because their pace attack is easily the best but their spinner tahir has yet to make a mark.

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