DateLine: 17th October 2006
Abdul Razzaq put in a superb all-round show as doping-hit Pakistan turned the form-book upside down with a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in a Champions Trophy match here on Tuesday.
Pakistan did a commendable job when they restricted Sri Lanka to 253 despite missing key pacemen Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who returned home on Monday after failing dope tests.
Seamer Razzaq came to Pakistan's rescue with four wickets before completing the job under lights with a quickfire 38 not out off 24 balls in an exciting Group-B league encounter.
He exploded with a flurry of boundaries, finishing the match with his second six. He added 54 off just 36 balls with Shoaib Malik (46 not out) as Pakistan won with 11 deliveries to spare.
"Everybody was keen to play good cricket and bury the whole (doping) issue," said Pakistan captain Younis Khan.
"We are here to win. We were under pressure a bit, but we are mentally strong and play well as a team. I think the turning point was the way we bowled in the last 10 overs, especially Razzaq with the old ball."
This was Sri Lanka's first defeat in four matches of the ongoing tournament, having won three games in the preliminary round.
Left-handed opener Imran Farhat had put Pakistan on the right track with an impressive 53 while Mohammad Yousuf continued the good work with a solid 49 before being run out for the 33rd time in his career.
Sri Lanka paid dearly for letting off Farhat when the batsman was on 25, with skipper Mahela Jayawardene grassing a regulation slip catch off seamer Dilhara Fernando.
Farhat batted comfortably against the seamers and used his feet well against spinners before he fell playing one shot too many, caught in the deep off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. He hit eight fours in his fifth half-century.
Pakistan suffered a setback when a well-set Yousuf fell short of the crease while going for a third run on a misfield, but they eventually found a match-winner in Razzaq.
Sri Lanka earlier looked like posting a big total when they raced to 108-1 in less than 18 overs, but Pakistan came back strongly to make their opponents struggle for runs in the middle and final overs.
"Every time we looked like accelerating we lost wickets, so the momentum was lost," said Jayawardene.
"The batsmen have to do their job as we fell 20-30 runs short. It is very disappointing as the top four batsmen were making runs consistently. Unfortunately, we made a lot of mistakes today."
Razzaq led Pakistan's fightback and received good support from off-spinner Malik (2-34) and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi, who bowled tightly in the middle overs.
Sanath Jayasuriya (48), Kumar Sangakkara (39), Upul Tharanga (38), Marvan Atapattu (36), Jayawardene (31) and Farveez Maharoof (22) all got starts, but none could convert it into a big knock.
Jayawardene also became the fifth Sri Lankan to complete 6,000 runs in one-day internationals after Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Atapattu and Arjuna Ranatunga.
Sri Lanka could capitalise only in the early overs after winning the toss as veteran left-handed opener Jayasuriya went on the rampage and dominated a 63-run stand for the opening wicket with the in-form Tharanga.
Jayasuriya, making a joint-record 368th appearance in one-dayers, treated the new-ball attack with contempt as he punished both Rana Naved and Rao Iftikhar during his 35-ball 48 which contained two sixes and five fours.
India's Sachin Tendulkar is the other batsman to play 368 one-dayers.
Sri Lanka clash with New Zealand at Mumbai on October 20 while Pakistan meet the same opponents at Mohali on October 25. Australia, England, India and the West Indies are in Group A. The top two sides will advance to the semi-finals.
India, New Zealand and Pakistan have posted one win apiece.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)
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