Seaside jaunt rekindles hope

Match Report: Pakistan A v Sri Lanka A, 2nd One-dayer

Charlie Austin
Charlie Austin
Pakistan's cricketers clearly have an affinity for the seaside. A day on Blackpool beach worked wonders for Waqar Younis's team in England, spurring them on to a series leveling victory at Old Trafford, whilst an afternoon's relaxation on Mt. Lavinia beach proved just the tonic for Pakistan A after their crushing 70 run defeat on Saturday.
They recovered in style, emphatically winning the second unofficial One-Day International by seven wickets at P.Sara Stadium today, to level the three-match series and set-up an intriguing series decider at Premadasa International Stadium on Wednesday.
The victory was marred, however, by an injury scare to Hasan Raza, who suffered a painful blow to his head, as he took his eyes off a short delivery from Suresh Perera. Batting without a helmet, the ball struck Hasan on the back of the head.
Though he remained standing, he had to be assisted from the field by the physio and was immediately sent to the hospital for precautionary x-rays. He returned later in the day, having been given the all clear, but it is unclear as to whether he will play in the final match of the tour, as the extent of the bruising will not be known until tomorrow.
Pakistan's convincing win was assured after a disastrous morning's batting by Sri Lanka, who bizarrely chose to bat first on a surface notoriously helpful to the faster bowlers in the first hour of the day.
Sri Lanka's top order duly collapsed, slipping to 42 for five, before eventually being bowled out for 168. Pakistan, though they lost a wicket in the second over of the innings, cruised to victory with nine overs to spare, thanks to a forthright half-century by Faisal Naved.
Shantha Kalavitgoda (1) started the morning procession when he was caught behind off Shabbir Ahmed, who looked less laboured than he did on Saturday, in the fourth over.
Avishka Gunawardene (10), the cornerstone of the Sri Lankan batting, then provoked wild Pakistani celebrations when he was caught on the point boundary, having top edged a cut shot in Shabbir's next over.
Irfan Fazil made matters worse by nipping out Jehan Mubarak, thanks to wonderful airborne catch by Faisal Naved in the gully. Sri Lanka were 23 for three.
Sri Lanka could still, however, have recovered from their perilous position, as the pitch started to calm down, were it not for another impressive spell of leg spin from Danish Kaneria, who would have been given the man of the match award by the appointed adjudicator, if the planned presentation had actually taken place.
Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan tried to consolidate, but the innings completely stalled, and at one stage the batsmen failed to score for 34 consecutive deliveries. With the pressure building Dilshan (5) cut loosely at a wide delivery from Kaneria and was caught behind.
In his next over Kaneria clean bowled Sangakkara (13) with the ball of the day; a sharply turning leg break that jack knifed back through bat and pad, as the left hander tried to drive through the off side.
Chamara Silva (40) and Thilan Samaraweera (43) recovered well, adding 73 for the sixth wicket, and Suresh Perera (18) threatened to blast Sri Lanka towards an adequate score, but, in the end, the early morning damage had just been too severe.
Imran Farhat was caught behind in the second over but Faisal Naved (66) and Taufeeq Umar (40) laid the foundations for victory with an 88 run stand for the second wicket. After the retirement of Hasan, Misbah-ul-Haq finished off the match with an unbeaten 33.