Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Inzamam steers Pakistan to victory

Pakistan 297 for 4 (Inzamam 76, Salman 57, Shoaib 56) defeated Sri Lanka 293 for 5 by six wicketsScorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan gained the psychological edge in this dress rehearsal of Saturday's Paktel Cup final as they overhauled Sri Lanka by six wickets with seven balls to spare. Set 293 to win by Sri Lanka, spearheaded by 111 from Marvan Atapattu, Pakistan edged home in the final round-robin match of the tournament. Inzamam-ul-Haq built on a steady platform and was the key batsman for Pakistan as they remained undaunted by the prospect of batting under the Lahore lights. Inzamam, supported by Shoaib Malik, clubbed 76 from 59 balls as Pakistan pulled off a convincing win.

Atapattu had earlier rescued Sri Lanka from an early wobble after Naved-ul-Hasan had removed the openers Saman Jayantha and Sanath Jayasuriya to leave them 26 for 2. Atapattu was ably assisted by Kumar Sangakkara, who contributed 69, and their stand of 146 thrust the initiative back Sri Lanka's way.

But Pakistan's reply got off to an assured start, as Salman Butt and Yasir Hameed struck a healthy partnership of 99 for the first wicket, and scored at nearly five an over in the first 20. Yasir was bowled by Upul Chandana just two runs short of his half-century (99 for 1), and the run rate dipped gently, offering Sri Lanka some hope. And their hopes lifted again when Salman, having brought up his half-century, fell way short of converting it, as he edged Chaminda Vaas through to Sangakkara for 57 (139 for 2).

Enter Inzamam, who joined Malik at the crease, and made his intentions clear from the outset with a meaty thick-edged four to third man off his first ball. This match may have been a dead rubber - both sides have already qualified for the final - but Inzamam enlivened proceedings as he and Malik added 71 for the third wicket. Malik himself passed his half-century, but then was bowled by paceman Dilhara Fernando after adding only six more runs (210 for 3).

But with Inzamam at the crease Pakistan had every chance to gain the upper hand, and with Yousuf Youhana's support in the latter stages, Inzamam made sure they grasped it, as he steered Pakistan home for a convincing win that will do much to boost their hopes ahead of the final.