Pathetic Sri Lanka succumb to Pakistan onslaught

Published : 10:27 am  July 23, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (496) reads | 

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Pakistan outplayed Sri Lanka for the third time in four matches en route to winning their first One Day International series in Sri Lanka in nine years with a seven-wicket victory in a one-sided game, where the only battle if at all was seemingly the mediocrity between Sri Lanka’s batting and bowling.

There were few parallels between both innings, as Sri Lanka scratched their way to 256 and Pakistan eased to the target with little fuss and in much quicker time, with even the usually rocking R. Premadasa stadium half-empty, perhaps due to the tight security and strict rules in place after the fracas during Sunday’s third ODI.

By the time Lasith Malinga made the first breakthrough at the start of the 12th over, of Azhar Ali for 33, Pakistan had already raced to 77 – Sri Lanka themselves had been 53 for one at that point in their innings.  
Pakistan’s clinical chase gave Sri Lanka few opportunities – the only real ‘what-if’ moment came in the 14th over, when Lahiru Thirimanne allowed a regulation slip catch pass him, with the ball running to the third man boundary and giving Shehzad his 13th ODI half-century in the most fortuitous of fashions.

 Shehzad, who set the tempo, reaching his half-century in just 45 balls, closed in on a seventh ODI century before he found the fielder in the deep off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal. the second of the visitors’ wickets, to fall with the total on 190.  
It took Dinesh Chandimal three attempts to snag the third wicket when Mohammad Hafeez charged down the wicket and faintly edged the ball behind, the ball popping out of the keepers gloves twice before he held onto it. Hafeez made a well-composed 70 off 88 balls, with eight boundaries and a six, his wicket falling when Pakistan needed another 44 to win, leaving Shoaib Malik to score the winning runs in style, with a six over the mid-wicket boundary in the 41st over.

Winning the toss, Sri Lanka elected to bat first, and sacrificed experienced batting fire-power by dropping Upul Tharanga and all-rounder Thisara Perera, both of whom have been struggling to contribute in this series, and brought in Ashan Priyanjan and Suranga Lakmal, the latter to bolster the bowling unit that had been largely ordinary in the series so far.

That parlay provided nothing but false results as significant middle-order contributions proved to be like scarce commodities, with the hosts struggling to accelerate the scoring at the back-end of the innings. No batsmen after Thirimanne contributed more than the 20 runs scored by Dinesh Chandimal.

Tharanga’s omission meant that Thirimanne was promoted to number three, and that move was one of only few that paid off, with the vice-captain building on the return-to-form 56 he scored in the third ODI, to notch his 14th half-century yesterday, falling 10 runs short of what should have been his fifth ODI century.

His innings may have lacked excitement – only 20 runs came through boundaries – but, having come in in the third ball of the game, it proved vital, stabilizing the innings, with partnerships of 109 and 34 with Dilshan and Chandimal respectively.
Earlier, the always-aggressive Kusal Perera was caught out even before he could get going when he miscued Mohammed Irfan in the second ball of the innings, lobbing a leading edge to Wasim Imad at cover.

That wicket stalled the early momentum of the innings, as the second wicket pair of Dilshan and Thirimanne cautiously took Sri Lanka to 48/1 at the end of the first power-play.
In the absence of boundaries – the teams’ fifth and sixth boundaries separated by over eight overs, the latter which came in the 13th over – the pair put down anchor and relied mostly on singles, scoring 53 of them when they reached the 100-run mark in the 21st over, both batsmen on 47.

And it was with a single that Dilshan brought up his 44th ODI half-century, with Thirimanne reaching his in the next over.
 The 109-run partnership was broken two balls later however, mid-way through the 23rd over, when Dilshan stepped back only to miss a delivery from spinner Imad Wasim, and was bowled for 50 –  an innings ended well before it should have, given how at ease the batsman was.

That wicket brought Angelo Mathews to the crease and the captain made a slow start scoring 12 off his first 22 balls faced, before, in one of his first shots of aggression, he was caught at mid-off by Yasir Shah off the bowling of Rahat Ali in the 31st over with the total on 143.

143 for three soon became 170 for four, five overs later, when Chandimal miscued Mohammed Irfan skying the ball to long leg where Shah took a well-judged catch, ending the team’s second most successful partnership.
Thirimanne and Ashan Priyanjan put on 16 runs for the fifth-wicket, but Thirimanne’s wicket in the 42nd over proved another stumbling block.

Thirimanne was brilliantly caught by Shehzad, but not before the same fielder made a cheeky attempt to claim a catch that he should not have, two overs before, when replays showed the fielder clearly losing control of the ball as it rolled along the ground before he picked it up and claimed he had caught it.

He redeemed himself, however, in Shah’s next over, when Thirimanne was on 90, running to his left from deep square, with a lunge that helped him just about reach the ball.

Milinda Siriwardena seemed to add some impetus into the innings with two boundaries and a six, but he was picked out by Mohammad Rizwan at backward point for 19 runs off 11 deliveries, and two overs later Priyanjan’s slash found Hafeez at cover as Sri Lanka sputtered to 228 for seven with three and a half overs remaining. Where Sri Lanka were used to having Thisara Perera score smash-and-grab runs, the hosts had to turn to fast-bowler Lasith Malinga, and he duly entertained with a two-boundary, one-six knock of 17.

Pakistan used their only review in the 48th over, to review a delivery that Pathirana attempted to flick to the leg side but which he was adjudged to have missed by umpire Rod Tucker, who called a wide down the leg-side, and the visitors were perhaps unfortunate to not have had a more functional Decision Review System available to them, with inconclusiveness the only reason the decision was not reversed.   Pathirana was the penultimate wicket when he was run out for 14, hopelessly short of his ground on a direct-hit by bowler Anwer Ali and with Malinga’s wicket in the third ball of the final over of the innings, Sri Lanka managed just four more runs to close the innings on 256.                                  

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