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The Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in Colombo
Kanishkaa Balachandran in Colombo
June 16, 2012
When Thisara Perera came on for a new spell after the 40th over, Pakistan needed a very gettable 68 off 60 balls with six wickets in hand. Going by their experience against Perera at Pallekele, you'd reckon they'd be a bit cautious. A wobbly Younis Khan tried to fend Perera to the off side but edged it to Kumar Sangakkara. Pakistan needed Shahid Afridi to support a limping Azhar Ali at the other end, but he tamely chipped his first ball straight to cover. Perera became the fourth Sri Lankan to pick up an ODI hat-trick when he got Sarfraz Ahmed to edge to Mahela Jayawardene who took a sharp catch at slip. Perera wasn't done yet. Sohail Tanvir tapped the ball to the on side, a cramping Azhar called for the run but sent him back on realising that he wasn't going to be able to make it. Perera swooped down on the ball and in one motion under-armed the ball at the stumps. 176 for 4 became 176 for 8 after that over. Game, set and match Sri Lanka.
It's not uncommon to see wicketkeepers wearing helmets while keeping to spinners. Sarfraz, though, seemed confident of his reflexes to not warrant any headgear. Until he faced Shahid Afridi. The ball was a touch slow through the air but bounced a bit more than Kumar Sangakkara expected. The inside-edge lobbed off the pads and knocked Sarfraz flush on the forehead. After a few seconds, which would have seemed like hours for the wicketkeeper, he was back on his feet. No nasty cut or blood on the pitch. Remarkably, he decided not to signal for a helmet.
The Pakistan fielders had several direct-hit opportunities but not all managed to hit the stumps. What hurt them especially was that a couple of those allowed Sri Lanka's top scorer Sangakkara to get away. Umar Akmal failed to nail the target from point with Sangakkara on 10, and a short while later, Afridi too went off the mark, costing Pakistan an overthrow. It seemed like Pakistan's best hope of hitting the stumps was by rolling their arm over, as Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Hafeez managed from 22 yards. However, Afridi redeemed himself when a flat throw from point which caught Lahiru Thirimanne short by the narrowest of margins.
The bowling change
Pakistan's need to beef up their batting meant that they had to leave out their third seamer, irrespective of Mohammad Sami's fitness. After an accurate spell by the frontline seamers in the first Powerplay, Misbah-ul-Haq turned to the very part-time option of Younis Khan - princely average of 86 with three ODI wickets. He has bowled 260 balls and conceded as many runs. He began inauspiciously with a wide, too far for Tillakaratne Dilshan to stretch the bat out to. However, in his second over, his gentle seam-up nearly cleaned up Kumar Sangakkara when an inside-edge sailed past the stumps. That wasn't enough to reward him another over for the rest of the innings.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge