Dinesh Chandimal steers Lankan ship through troubled waters
Sri Lanka 288-8 (Kusal 68) beat
Pakistan 287-8 (Azhar 79) by two wickets
Second One-Day International in Pallekele
An early onslaught from Kusal Perera was followed up by Dinesh Chandimal's rescue act with the tail as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by two wickets in the second One-Day International in Pallekele.
After winning the toss, Pakistan opted to bat first on a decent batting wicket. The start was delayed by 30 minutes because of rain.
Azhar Ali (79) and Ahmed Shehzad (30) provided a steady start with a 59-run partnership in 14 overs.
Sachith Pathirana (2-70) provided the much-needed breakthrough for his side by knocking down Shehzad who failed in his attempt to take on the slow left-arm bowler.
Mohammad Hafeez (9) and Babar Azam (12) failed to make their presence felt as they were dismissed without making starts.
Shoaib Malik (51) looked in ominous touch, adding 83 runs with Azhar to take Pakistan to 179 for three in the 37th over.
Just when the game was running away from Sri Lanka, Angelo Mathews (1-36) dismissed Malik with a peach of a delivery shattering his off stump.
Pakistan started to lose their way at 217 for six, but Mohammad Rizwan (52) played a blinder in his 38-ball knock which included five fours and a six taking Pakistan to 287 for eight in the 50 overs.
Pathirana and Lasith Malinga (2-64) picked a couple of wickets each for Sri Lanka, even though they were very expensive.
Perera (68) and Tillakaratne Dilshan posted a firm response to Pakistan's challenging total by putting up an opening partnership of 92 runs in a mere 8.2 overs with Perera doing most of the heavy lifting.
His 25-ball knock was laced with 13 boundaries and two sixes. During his whirlwind knock, Perera reached his fifty in just 17 balls equaling the record of his fellow countryman and legendary opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya.
Dilshan fell just three short of a deserved fifty as he was knocked over on 47 by Rahat Ali (3-73).
Upul Tharanga (28), Angelo Mathews (8), Lahiru Thirimanne (4) did not trouble the scorers much as the trio threw away their wickets in a span of six overs putting Sri Lanka in big trouble.
Chandimal (48 not out) came to the rescue of hosts with a splendid unbeaten 63-ball knock as he paired up with Milinda Siriwardana (26), Pathirana (33) and Thisara Perera (15) for modest but valuable partnerships to get his side closer to victory.
Hafeez (2-61) managed to get rid of Siriwardana and Pathirana to keep the visitors in the hunt until the closing stages of the game.
With three runs required to win, Perera was dismissed by Anwar Ali (1-33) reviving Pakistan's chances, however, Malinga (2 not out) managed to survive the remainder of Ali's over to help Sri Lanka make it past the target.
Chandimal was given the man-of-the-match award for his calm and level-headed performance which helped Sri Lanka level the five-match ODI series 1-1.
© Cricket World 2015