By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Pakistan bounced back strongly to beat Sri Lanka by 135 runs in the third one-day international played at the R Premadasa Stadium and take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series despite the match being disrupted by clashes between spectators.
Sri Lanka were left with a record breaking run chase after Pakistan batting first on a placid pitch had hit up an imposing 316-4.
The highest successful run chase by Sri Lanka at home was 289-4 against Pakistan at Dambulla in 2009 and the highest successful chase at this venue was 288-5 by India against Sri Lanka in 2012.
Sri Lanka was not able to achieve either target as they were bowled out for 181 in 41.1 overs.
Play was held up twice initially for 15 minutes due to rain during the Pakistan innings and later for 32 minutes when Sri Lanka were batting. A riot broke out between two factions in one of the stands near the scoreboard and one of the stones thrown in the melee landed just outside the boundary line.
“To ensure the safety of the players they were taken off the field until the incident was brought under control,” said Sri Lanka Cricket interim committee secretary Prakash Schaffter. “The stands were cleared and the match was resumed soon after. There was no security concern.”
Sri Lanka at that stage hopelessly placed at 158-7 off 33.3 overs lasted a further 46 balls for the addition of 23 runs before the final three wickets fell, two of which were claimed by Yasir Shah who ended up with figures of four for 29 – his career best in eight ODIs.
It was Kusal Perera who set up Sri Lanka’s successful run chase at Pallekele in the second ODI when he smashed 68 off 25 balls that saw them reach the target of 288.
If Sri Lanka was to repeat that success Perera had to produce another of his blistering knocks, but it was not to be on this occasion because Pakistan picked up his wicket as early as the eighth over dismissing him for 20. Anwar Ali not only sent him back but also his opening partner Tillakaratne Dilshan for 14, to push Sri Lanka onto the back foot.
Upul Tharanga (16), Angelo Mathews (4) and Dinesh Chandimal (18) all left in a hurry within the space of 11 overs falling to spinners Yasir Shah and debutant Imad Wasim as Sri Lanka lost half the side for 130 by the 27th over.
The end was nigh once top scorer Lahiru Thirimanne who eventually found some form was dismissed for 56 with the total at 142. No else made any worthwhile contribution.
The batting success of a team is building around partnerships and in this aspect Sri Lanka failed to come up with anything of substance – the best they could derive being 40.
Pakistan in comparison were off to a splendid start with openers Ahmed Shehzad (44) and Azhar Ali (49) posting 93 off 99 balls. Their dismissals did not alter the Pakistan run rate for Mohammad Hafeez (54) and Sarfraz Ahmed (77) carried on the good work with another useful partnership that produced 72 runs off 81 balls.
Shoaib Malik (42 not out) and Mohammad Rizwan (35 not out off 22 balls) provided the final flourish to the Pakistan innings with an entertaining unbroken stand of 59 off 34 balls. Their clean hitting saw Pakistan score 93 off the final ten overs.
The batsmen targeted Sri Lanka’s top ODI bowler Lasith Malinga who conceded 21 runs in the final over to end with disappointing figures of one for 80 off 10 overs – the seventh time overall in his ODI career that he has given away 80 runs or more – the last three instances coming since July 12, 2014.
Sarfraz pocketed the man of the match award for his knock of 77 coupled with some handy work behind the stumps where he snared three victims.
The match was witnessed by the ICC’s new president Zaheer Abbas and India’s top woman tennis player Sania Mirza who is married to Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik.
The fourth match of the series will be played at the same venue on Wednesday.
Ahmed Shehzad c Pathirana b Malinga 44
Azhar Ali run out 49
Mohammad Hafeez c K Perera b Pathirana 54
Sarfraz Ahmed run out 77
Shoaib Malik not out 42
Mohammad Rizwan not out 35
Extras (b-4, lb-1, nb-2, w-8) 15
Total (4 wickets, 50 overs) 316
Fall of wickets: 1-93 (Shehzad), 2-124 (Azhar), 3-196 (Hafeez), 4-257 (Sarfraz).
Did not bat: Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan.
Bowling: Mathews 8-0-52-0, Pradeep 9-0-47-0 (w3), Malinga 10-0-80-1 (nb1), Pathirana 10-0-49-1 (nb1), T Perera 10-0-63-0 (w4), Dilshan 3-0-20-0 (w1).
K Perera c Sarfraz b Anwar 20
T Dilshan c Azhar b Anwar 14
L Thirimanne c Safraz b Rahat 56
U Tharanga st Sarfraz b Yasir 16
A Mathews c Malik b Yasir 4
D Chandimal b Imad 18
T Perera c Anwar b Yasir 12
M Siriwardana run out 2
S Pathirana c Anwar b Yasir 19
L Malinga b Imad 6
N Pradeep not out 3
Extras (b-4, lb-1, nb-1, w-5) 11
Total (all out, 41.1 overs) 181
Fall of wickets: 1-33 (Dilshan), 2-42(K Perera), 3-82 (Tharanga), 4-93 (Mathews), 5-130 (Chandimal), 6-142 (Thirimanne), 7-144 (Siriwardana), 8-170 (T Perera), 9-172 (Pathirana), 10-181 (Malinga).
Bowling: Irfan 7-1-32-0 (w1, nb1), Anwar 5-0-24-2, Rahat 7-0-35-1 (w2), Malik 5-0-28-0, Yasir 10-1-29-4 (w1), Imad 7.1-0-28-2.