Sri Lanka 232-9 (Mathews 43, Mohd. Aamer 3-45) beat
Pakistan 196 (Thushara 3-29) by 36 runs
First One-Day International, Dambulla
By Peter Exley
Sri Lanka and Pakistan began their One-Day International series today at Dambulla, with Sri Lanka triumphing by 36 runs.
The home team batted first but never really got going as they lost wickets at regular intervals throughout the first part of their innings. The top order all made good starts to their knocks but couldn’t convert them into any meaningful contributions. Mahela Jayawardene (33) and Kumar Sangakkara (36) put on 43 for the third wicket, but this was the highest partnership of the innings, a sign of why they could not record a significant total.
Angelo Mathews, fast becoming an all rounder of some note, hit 43 to top score for Sri Lanka and some late hitting from Muttiah Muralitharan (31) who was returning from injury in this match, meant that Sri Lanka posted 232 for nine from their allocation of fifty overs. Teenage pace sensation Mohammad Aamer was the pick of the bowlers as he took three for 45 to help restrict Sri Lanka.
Pakistan would have thought that they could record their first win of the tour having bolwed so well to contain the prolific Sri Lankan batting line up, but their dreams were in tatters after losing early wickets to slip to 95 for six. Thilan Thushara, who is taking up the mantle of replacing Chaminda Vaas at the helm of the fast bowling unit, once again took wickets to finish with 3 for 29 from eight overs. Nuwan Kulasekara also assisted in ripping out the top order chipping in with two wickets and Shahid Afridi was the only man to make any real contribution scoring 27 from 28 balls.
It was the unlikely batting duo of Umar Gul (33) and Mohammad Aamer (23) who looked to be taking the match away from Sri Lanka as they put on 62 for the ninth wicket. But their succession of big hits were all too little too late as Lasith Malinga clean bowled Gul to take the last wicket and win the match.
Yet another loss for Pakistan will no doubt cause more trouble in the dressing room of the tourists as the rumours of rifts between players and captain Younus Khan continue to rage on. However, there will be other opportunities for them to get back into the series, but it will need a significant improvement or some he mistakes from the clinical Sri Lankans to stand any chance of winning this series.
© Cricket World 2009