|Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Dambulla
|Sri Lanka v Pakistan
|CK Kapugedera, MTT Mirando, Younis Khan
|Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2009
Pakistan had decided to go into the game dropping two of the most prolific scorers in ODI cricket. It was Younis' audacity that he left out guys like Mohammad Yousuf and Misbah-Ul-Haq from the starting eleven and got in youngsters like Naser Jamshed and Umar Akmal. The changes though hardly made any difference as Pakistan batting was again subject to humiliation at the hands of the Sri Lankan pace battery. The top-order never get going and though the new Akmal showed glimpses of his talent not a bit worked in their batting. They succumbed to a total of 168 and it could had been even lesser had Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal would not have added 40 runs for the last wicket.
While bowling though the tourists had their chances having the hosts on the mat at 44 for three and then at 74 for four but an audacious Chamara Kapugedara and a different looking Thilan Samaraweera made the day their own as Sri Lanka overhauled the modest total with more than six overs to spare.
Chasing 169 to win, Sri Lanka started of on a positive note. Sanath Jayasuriya looked particularily dangerous for the hosts as he started to carter the Pakistan pace battery in no time. The opening pair had added 23 runs in four overs when Mohammad Aamer struck and found Upul Tharanga's edge to be safely caught by Nasir Jamshed at slip.
Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara then joined Jayasuriya and both looked absolutely fine batting on a track and under conditions that looked supportive to seam bowling. The one moment though that Pakistan needed came via a disastrous run call by Jayasuriya. He called Sangakkara for a run and then detracted only to find his skipper at a point of no return and Sangakkara was visibly upset over it.
The dismissal it seemed weighed over the veteran as he got out off the very next ball trying to heave Razzaq over covers only to find Omar Akmal at the boundary who once again proved his exceptional talent as he ran behind and caught a good one. The two wickets gave Pakistan the opening they were looking forward to and now they had new batsmen at the crease in the form of Chamara Kapugedara and Mahela Jayawardene.
The two took time to settle down but put together a good 30 runs for the fourth wicket which kind of settled nerves after the loss of two wickets in a jiffy. Then Jayawardene fell and he was peeved with himself because of the manner of his dismissal. It was not at all a wicket-taking delivery as Afridi dropped it short, almost a half tracker, and Jayawardene pulled only to find Younis at short midwicket.
After this Kapugedara (67) and Thilan Samaraweera (38) added 95 unbeaten runs and made sure Pakistan don't find any way back in the game. Samaraweera it must be said has improved his limited overs game leaps and bounds as he hardly looked alien to this format and Kapugedara who had looked a little out of touch would gather huge confidence from an innings like this where under pressure he took his side home.
Earlier, bowling first the hosts made full use of winning the toss, as they ripped open a new look Pakistani batting line-up on a overcast morning in Dambulla. Again the pace battery of Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekara got to the fore, with Thushara taking 3 for 33.
Pakistan made two changes from the side that lost a couple of days back. Nothing changed for them when they started though as again Nasir Jamshed, who had come in along with Umar Akmal at the expense of Mohammad Yousuf and Misbah-ul-Haq, pinged at a Nuwan Kulasekara delivery that was moving away, and Mahela Jayawardene took a smart catch at second slip.
Kamran Akmal stroked a couple of good looking drives but two wickets that of his and former skipper Shoaib Malik at the score of 21 made sure Sri Lanka avoided even thoughts of a consolidation. Akmal edged one that went across him for Thilan Samaraweera to take a tumbling catch at first slip, and then Shoaib Malik was unfortunate to be given out leg-before after being struck high on the pad.
In walked a talent who was spoke of highly by one and all. Omar Akmal, Kamran's younger brother, according to many known to Pakistan cricket is the next best thing to happen to their batting line-up. He did show glimpses of his brilliance on a green-tinged pitch where the ball darted around and his skipper at the other end was in all sorts of trouble.
But soon after drinks, Sri Lanka struck again, with Umar laying his bat at a wide one from Angelo Mathews. Kumar Sangakkara did not any mistake, and when Thushara came back for a sixth over and had Fawad Alam top-edging a cut behind, Pakistan were again subject to a yet another batting embarrassment.
Though Younis kept intact his wicket from one end, he found it extremely tough to turn the strike over, facing 73 balls for his 23, and his way of getting out looked similar to the way he had carried on his knock, chipping Murali to midwicket. Shahid Afridi had been held back, but it didn't prove a successful gambit as a big heave off Murali went only as far as deep square leg.
Then the most fruitful partnership of the innings was stiched as Razzaq and Gul kept the bowlers at bay for 10 overs without making a big dent on the scoreboard. Sri Lanka though were in no mood for any relieving act as this time there brilliant fielding brought them the wicket. Malinga Bandara, the substitute fielder, caught Gul short with a direct hit from gully.
Razzaq then slapped Sanath Jayasuriya to long-on, and it was left to Mohammad Aamer, who showed impressive commitment once again, and Saeed Ajmal to steer the side past 150. On a bowler-friendly surface, it gave them a glimmer of a chance.