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Sri Lanka make superb Super 8 start

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: June 12, 2009 21:58 IST
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Pakistan found Lasith Malinga's pace and swing too hot to handle as they went down to Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the Super Eights match of the ICC World Twenty20 at Lord's on Friday.

Electing to bat, Sri Lanka squandered a good start and were restricted to just 150 for seven in their 20 overs. Pakistan, in reply, however, never threatened despite captain Younis Khan's quick 50 from 37 deliveries and finished with a disappointing 131 for nine.

Malinga's magic was in full show once again as he registered magnificent figures of three for 17 in four overs.

Muttiah Muralitharan was not his usual best, but still did well to claim two wickets for 28 runs, while Angelo Mathews took one for 23.

Sri Lanka got off to a flying start, Sanath Jayasuriya (26 from 24 deliveries) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (46 from 39 deliveries) put on 81 runs for the opening wicket in just 64 deliveries. But leg-spinner Shahid Afridi pulled things back for Pakistan by taking two for 23 in four overs, including the wickets of both the openers.

Sri Lanka:

Sohail Tanvir sprayed the ball around in his first over and went for 18 runs. He conceded three wides, two no-balls and was also hit for three boundaries as Sri Lanka got off to a flier. Tanvir's woes continued in his next over too as he gave more extras and boundaries for a return of 29 runs in two overs, during which he bowled a total of 18 deliveries.

Mohammad Aamer too got some stick in the fourth over of the innings. Sanath Jayasuriya pulled a short delivery over square leg for the first six of the match. Tillakaratne Dilshan then brought out his customary scoop over the wicketkeeper for a boundary as Sri Lanka raced to 47 after four overs.

Umar Gul fared no better in his opening over as Dilshan hit him for two boundaries in a row, including a fine paddle over the fine leg fielder, to take Sri Lanka to 59 after five overs.

Dilshan was all over the Pakistan bowlers; even the spinners, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal, seemed to have no answer to his unorthodox approach.

 Jayasuriya, who was a silent spectator from the other end, was the first wicket to fall, dismissed by Afridi. The left-hander, who scored 26 from 24 deliveries, tried a wild sweep-slog against the leg-spinner but got a top edge which was taken at square leg. (81-1, 9)

Just like in their last game, the openers had given Sri Lanka the early initiative, with a blazing stand of 81 runs.

Despite the loss of that wicket, Sri Lanka were in complete control in the first half of their innings, reaching 86 for one after 10 overs.

Dilshan was unlucky to miss out on his half-century; he was bowled off an inside edge by Afridi. The right-hander, who hit fifties in his last two matches, stroked his way to 46 from 39 deliveries, including eight boundaries. (89-2, 10.5)

Afridi had helped Pakistan pull back Sri Lanka slightly after that rampaging start, as he claimed two wickets for three runs in the space of six deliveries.

With the Pakistan spinners keep things tight, Sri Lanka went for around four overs without a single boundary to reach 91 for two after 12 overs.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara broke the shackles in the 13th over with a boundary through square leg to take the team past the 100-run mark. But he fell in the next over from Ajmal, stumped by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, after scoring 15 from 16 deliveries. (110-3, 14)

The first nine overs had produced 81 runs but Pakistan, through their spinners, pulled back things with just 47 coming off the next seven overs as Sri Lanka reached 128 for three in 16 overs.

Chamara Silva perished for eight, caught behind off Umar Gul, trying to accelerate the scoring. (128-4, 16.1)

Sri Lanka seemed to lose their way in the final overs as wickets kept falling regularly while the boundaries also dried up. Mahela Jayawardene made 18 from 19 deliveries before he chipped one straight to Afridi at cover off Ajmal. (132-5, 17.1)

The next few overs passed off quietly for Sri Lanka before Angelo Matthews brought back some cheer in the Lankan camp when he hit Gul for a boundary, the first in 27 deliveries.

Two wickets fell in two deliveries as Jehan Mubarak was run out for five and Nuwan Kulasekara was dismissed leg before wicket for a first ball duck by Gul.

Sri Lanka must be disappointed to have finished with just 150 for seven in their 20 overs. The last ten overs were the problem areas as their batsmen scored only 64 runs from them, while hitting just five boundaries and a six.

Afridi played a major part in helping pull back things with a spell of two for 23 in four overs and was ably supported by Ajmal, who claimed two for 26.

Pakistan

Defending a modest score, the Sri Lankan bowlers needed to strike early; and that is what pacer Matthews did. He struck in the first over of the innings, bowling Salman Butt through the gate for a three-ball duck. (0-1, 0.3)

Shoaib Malik hit Pakistan's first boundary when he lofted Nuwan Kulasekara over the mid-on fielder in the second over.

Even the Pakistani batsmen found the going a bit difficult in the initial overs and 18 runs came from the first four, including just two boundaries.

Malik then broke the shackles with three consecutive boundaries off Matthews, all through the point region, as Pakistan put up 33 for one after five overs.

Malinga, introduced in the sixth over, then struck early, claiming the wicket of Malik his opening over. The Pakistan opener, who made 28 from 20 deliveries, tried to play a wild slog but was foxed by a slower delivery and hit straight to the mid-on fielder, Kulasekara. (34-2, 5.1)

Two balls later, Akmal also took the long walk back the pavilion after being dismissed run-out for 5. That left Pakistan reeling at 35 for three in the sixth over.

At the halfway stage, Pakistan were 59 for three and faced a stiff task of scoring 92 from the last ten overs.

Captain Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq looked to play it safe for the early part of their innings. Younis tried to get things moving with boundaries in consecutive overs off Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Muralitharan struggled as both the batsmen, particularly Younis, used the sweep quite well against him. The two batsmen also brought up their 50-run partnership in that over off just 47 deliveries.

Sri Lanka still held the upper hand with 60 needed off the last six overs, but the Pakistan had seven wickets in hand.

Then Muralitharan did the trick for Sri Lanka, claiming two wickets in his final over to finish with respectable figures of 28 for two in four overs.

He made Pakistan's task difficult when he claimed the wicket of Misbah, caught at deep square leg, for 21. (101-4, 15.3)

Misbah added 66 runs in 10 overs for the fourth wicket with Younis, but had failed to lift the scoring rate when it came down to the final few overs.

Pakistan's last big hope Afridi lasted just one delivery before holing out to Silva at the square leg boundary. (101-5, 15.4)

Younis, though, continued to battle and brought up his half-century from just 36 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries. However, he fell to Malinga off the very next delivery when he tried a wild heave through midwicket but got a top edge and was pouched by Sangakkara at point for 50 from 37 deliveries. (108-6, 16.4)

Malinga finished his spell with a wicket off the final delivery when Tanvir's attempted slog was taken by the bowler himself. (121-7, 19) He played a major part in the victory with respectable figures for three for 17 in his four overs.

In the final over, there was a flurry of wickets when Fawad Alam as caught behind for 12, while Mohammad Aamer was run out without facing a delivery.

Umar Gul hit a six in the final over as Pakistan finished on 131 for nine in their 20 overs.

With three convincing victories in a row against three big teams, Sri Lanka must now fancy their chances of making it to the last four. Pakistan, meanwhile, have a big task on hand to make it to the semi-finals.

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