SL beat Pakistan to square series

KARACHI: Sri Lankan balers defended 310 runs to beat Pakistan in the second one day International here at Hambantota cricket Stadium to level series.

Sri Lanka’s innings alternated between bursts of boundaries and periods of lull, before the final six overs were caned for 80 runs to set Pakistan a target of 311 in Hambantota. Angelo Mathews continued to show he can do no wrong in 2014 with another effort around which the whole innings revolved, Mahela Jayawardene again showed how violent strokeplay is unnecessary for scoring at a rapid pace, before Thisara Perera showed, after many months, how quickly violent strokeplay can change a game.

Sri Lanka’s openers began in a hurry but neither Tillakaratne Dilshan nor Upul Tharanga lasted too long. Dilshan hit three boundaries before he was given out caught behind in the second over after Pakistan referred it. Tharanga scored plenty around point as he was fed short-and-wide deliveries and Sri Lanka’s 50 came up in the eighth over. The introduction of Wahab Riaz weighed down the run-rate though as he removed Kumar Sangakkara in his first over, and Tharanga in his next, leaving Sri Lanka at 62 for 3 in the 11th over.

Like in the first ODI, it was again down to Jayawardene and Mathews to revive the innings. Jayawardene dominated the partnership with a series of effortless strokes that left Pakistan scrambling in the field. He used the lap sweep and the late cut past backward point, he scooted down the track to chip over mid-off and midwicket – there were four fours from him in a five-ball sequence against the spinners, and the pressure built by the early wickets evaporated.

Mathews was far more circumspect, but the pair took Sri Lanka to 184 for 3 an over before the Powerplay. It seemed that the base they had laid was wasted when Mohammad Hafeez struck three times over four overs, bringing together Mathews and No. 8 Thisara with more than 12 overs still remaining. With Thisara a bit of a hit-and-miss operator, the chances of Sri Lanka being bowled out were significant.

Mathews had nudged and nurdled as many as he could to the leg side early on, but he backed himself to raise that strike rate towards the end of the innings, and he did that with some muscular hits over extra cover and towards midwicket. He went past 3000 ODI runs, and had time for a maiden century in the format but he, as seen so often this year, perished in the 90s.

That didn’t deter Perera, as he took apart the quicks at the death. The power-hitting that makes him such a valued limited-overs player was in full display as he launched everything in his range over the leg side. From 15 off 18, he rocketed to 57 off 32 as the bowlers wilted under the blaze of big hits. At the 40-over stage, Sri Lanka would have been satisfied with a final score around 275, but the Perera blitz shot them past 300.