|Ground:||Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Dambulla|
|Scorecard:||Sri Lanka v Pakistan|
|Player:||Saeed Ajmal, Umar Akmal, DPMD Jayawardene, WU Tharanga|
|Event:||Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2009|
DateLine: 3rd August 2009
Mahela Jayawardene showed the world that elegance in batting in the modern world has not died out and it still remains. In today’s cricketing world where most of the batsmen prefer power over grace and elegance, Jayawardene showed that a batsman could compile a quickfire century without resorting to violence. Sri Lanka chasing Pakistan’s challenging total of 289 was powered by Jayawardene’s sublime century as they chased down the target in just 47 overs. Sri Lanka had won the toss and elected to field first hoping that the pitch would again assist their medium pacers in restricting the Pakistani batsmen.
It was a pleasing performance with the bat from the Pakistani side, as they ran up the highest score at the ground. Umar Akmal led the Pakistani batting with an excellently paced maiden half century, with the Pakistani total boosted in the end with some meaty blows by the lower-order batsmen Razzaq and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. The intent of the Pakistani side was crystal clear from the first over of the match: go after the new-ball bowers to throw them off their line. Pakistan lost Jamshed in the second over of the day, when Thushara got the southpaw to edge to slips. That did not deter Akmal and skipper Younis Khan as they put on 71 in 14 overs.
Akmal and Younis Khan rarely looked troubled with the offerings of the Lankan bowlers as they found that the pitch was loaded more in the favour of the batsmen. Akmal heaved Kulasekara over midwicket and when the bowler dropped it short he quickly got onto the backfoot to play an authoritative pull shot. Younis Khan got bogged down in the previous game but today he was looking for the short singles and also pounced on any loose offerings from the Lankan bowlers. Fifty six runs came in the first Powerplay and Sangakkara sensed that he quickly needed a change in the bowling personnel. He brought on Fernando and Mathews and quickly the complexion of the game changed. Akmal whacked a short and wide ball from Mathews to the point fence and again the next ball he was fed with the same ball from the bowler, but this time he could only feather it behind.
Younis Khan was joined by Shoaib Malik at the crease and he rarely looked comfortable at the crease. Fernando plucked him out with a brute of a delivery which he duly nicked it behind and then Younis Khan misjudged a single, failing to understand the accuracy of Thushara’s throw, found himself well short of his crease At the half way stage the Pakistani scorecard was looking shaky with the score reading 119 for the loss of four wickets and at the crease was two inexperienced members of the squad, Fawad Alam and Umar Akmal. Alam struggled throughout the innings unable to find his timing right, but Akmal did not panic when the runs did not come. He kept the scoreboard moving with nudges and pushes, getting the ones and twos.
Fawad Alam tied down by the accurate Lankan bowlers tried to break free when he tried to saunter down the track, but Mathews was too clever for the batsmen as he held his length back forcing Alam to play a horrendous swipe across the line, only for the ball to take the top-edge. The bowler had to make a lot of ground but he held his nerve, followed the ball and finally took the skier diving forward. Umar Akmal was joined by Afridi and suddenly the batting became hectic. Afridi was at his usual self as he jumped down the track almost every ball. He played maniacally, played some cheeky shots and also played a brutal straight drive. Muralitharan finally had the better of him when he cleaned him up with a quicker ball. Akmal meanwhile compiled his maiden half century and began to lift the tempo of his and the team’s innings. Razzaq and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan provided their contributions as the Pakistani team posted the highest total on the ground.
The Pakistani bowlers should have been forgiven for thinking that defending 285 would have been like a piece of cake. Opener Upul Tharanga and makeshift opener Mahela Jayawardene clinically tore apart the Pakistani bowlers as they put on an authoritative 202 for the first wicket. The opening over of the innings indicated little as to what was to follow as the openers; especially Jayawardene clinically tore apart the Pakistani bowlers. Razzaq who was steady in the previous two matches bore the brunt of the Sri Lankan openers. Tharanga collected two boundaries in the first over of Jayawardene and then his lack of pace was exposed by Jayawardene who repeatedly used his feet to get to the pitch of the ball. When the opening bowlers were proving to be ineffective, Younis Khan turned to Rana Naved ul Hasan for providing a breakthrough. Other than displaying his newly acquired slower ball which on more than one occasion flummoxed the batsmen, nothing positive emerged from his introduction into the attack.
The spinners were slowly introduced but barring one strong leg before appeal against Jayawardene nothing substantial came about for Pakistan as the openers were unperturbed with the bowling change. Mahela Jayawardene was elegance personified as he found the boundaries almost at will and none of his shots could be termed as one made with force or anger. Tharanga on the other hand used force and elegance to work his way to a crucial half century. His place in the squad was under scrutiny and with his timely half century he could for some time breathe easily.
Jayawardene was affected by cramps in his legs as the temperature was very hot. The Pakistani attack was grinded to dust by the contrasting duo and just when it seemed that it would get out of hand, Ajmal struck for Pakistan when he trapped Tharanga leg before. Jayawardene was the next to go when he played a tired looking shot into the hands of Alam at point. Pakistan then made another breakthrough when Ajmal fooled Samaraweera with his well disguised doosra and coaxed him into giving him a return catch. With that wicket Pakistan would have hoped that the Lankan batting would collapse but Sangakkara and Kandamby held fort to add 52 runs for the fourth wicket to crush any such hope of Pakistan that they would have harboured. Just when they got to the threshold of win, Kandamby played an ugly swipe across the line to be cleaned up by Aamer. Kapugedera joined his captain to steer Sri Lanka across the line to secure a home series win over Pakistan.
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