|TM Dilshan, ST Jayasuriya, M Muralitharan, KMDN Kulasekara, MTT Mirando, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul
|Sri Lanka in Pakistan 2008/09
Sri Lanka won by 234 runs with Pakistan being bundled out for the lowest total at the Gadaffi stadium. Pakistan didn't have much of a chance once they were reduced to 22/6, thanks to some brilliant bowling from Kulasekara and Thushara. But the win was set up by Dilshan, who notched up his highest ODI score who ensured there were no hiccups early on with the ball doing a fair bit. After being thumped in the first match, Sri Lanka came back strongly to clinch the series 2-1 with some emphatic victories. A series win would have done wonders to Pakistan's confidence as they were hosting their first home series in a while and the end result will sting them. They won the first match convincigly, but completely lost their way in the next two ODIs. Their score of 75 is the lowest at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. Murali who claimed two wickets in the match in the process claimed his 500th victim in the ODIs and he will have to wait for the India series to go past Wasim Akram's total tally of 502 wickets.
Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and gambled by opting to bat in the most seamer-friendly conditions in the series. Pakistan's modified new-ball attack of Sohail Khan and Umar Gul got considerable bounce and movement to soften the trigger-happy duo of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya as the overcast conditions in the deciding ODI demanded a bit more application from the Sri Lankan openers. The openers were clearly tested in conditions which didn't suit their style of play and the opening passage of play was marked with a series of miscued shots which landed in wide open spaces, airy slashes wide of the fielders and mistimed swats which failed to piece the infield. Jayasuriya was uncharacteristically scratchy and finally he cut loose in the 15th over off Rao Iftikhar Anjum, in which Pakistan leaked 25. He swung the first ball for six over long-on, scooped the next over extra cover, slapped him past mid-on and slashed one down to third man. His exuberance got the better of him the first ball of the following over by Gul when he failed to pick a slower ball and tamely miscued it to mid-on. It was the defining moment of the game as the momentum slowly shifted from Pakistan's grasp to Sri Lanka. Though Jayasuriya fell in the next over the runs began to come in with a little more ease.
The contributions by Kumar Sangakkara and Thilina Kandamby were significant as well. Sangakkara swept the spinners and pushed the singles with several taps to the off side and swiftly moved into his 30s. The stand between him and Dilshan came at a run a ball and the intensity of the fielding side tapered off with that stand. After setting such a good example with the running, confusion over a risky single sent Sangakkara back. Kandamby and Dilshan rubbed it in further with a stand of 57. Mahela Jayawardene improvised with some cheeky shots in his short stint. Dilshan carried his bat and remained unbeaten on 137, capping off a very successful experiment by Sri Lanka to push him up the order.
The conditions were predicted to favour the pacers at the start of play but it got deadlier when Sri Lanka began bowling under lights. Thushara struck in the second over, trapping make-shift opener Younis Khan lbw before Kulasekara found Salman Butt's edge to hand him a first-ball duck. It got worse for Pakistan when Kamran Akmal was trapped by a Thushara delivery which cut in, skidded, and hit him low on the pads. The inspired bowling was backed up by superb fielding: Farveez Maharoof pulled off a blinder at short wicket, intercepting a full-blooded pull from Khurram Manzoor. Misbah-ul-Haq had no answers to a peach from Thushara and he edged to the wicketkeeper. Shahid Afridi shouldered arms to a delivery that jagged back and lost his off-stump while Shoaib Malik stood helpless at the other end. Gul walked out and essayed some aggressive shots and even had the audacity to lift Thushara over mid-wicket for a huge six.
Jayawardene realising that by bringing on Mendis would terminate the innings quickly brought him on and he took just three overs to remove Gul as he was trapped before his stumps. Maharoof removed Malik in the very next over as he had him edging to the slips of a wide ball and then Iftikhar Anjum and Sohail Khan were send back packing to the pavilion by the peerless Murali who in the process claimed him 500th victim in the ODIs.