Clinical Pakistan draws first blood
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Player:Khurram Manzoor, Salman Butt, Shoaib Akhtar, M Muralitharan, BAW Mendis
Event:Sri Lanka in Pakistan 2008/09

DateLine: 20th January 2009


On the back Salman Butt's elegant century Pakistan put on show a clinical performance that would have deflated the Lankan team. The performance of the Sri Lankan team has been patchy for the last few months and this defeat will no doubt cause some serious introspection into their performance. Salman Butt was well supported by his opening partner Khurram Manzoor who scored a well paced 83 as the opening pair put on 168 in 37 overs. The way the duo tamed Murali and Mendis into submission was excellent and this will give the Lankan captain more headaches.


Earlier in the day Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. The experiment of sending Dilshan to partner Jayasuriya clicked. He wasn't in a mood to hang around and stated his intent by smashing the first ball of the series past midwicket. He didn't allow Shoaib Akhtar settle into any rhythm and the bowler himself was guilty of allowing width to Dilshan to execute his ungainly slashes past slip. The opening bowlers leaked 59 off the first seven overs and Malik was forced to bring in a double change and Gul found success as early as his first over as he nabbed the wicket of Dilshan. Jayasuriya benefited off some loose bowling and had a life on 35 when Shahid Afridi spilled a sitter at cover point but failed to capitalise on the drop when he was trapped in front by a full delivery by Gul. Kapugedera and Sangakkara were cautious and Sangakkara grafted away against the spinners and he was happy pushing the singles. Kapugedera succumbed while trying to charge Afridi down the track and Jehan Mubarak failed as well after a misunderstanding over a second run sent him back for 8. Sangakkara perished off an upper cut, taken athletically by Butt at point and with the score at 176 for 6.


Pakistan deserved credit for keeping things tight. Afridi asked questions with his variations, slipping in the odd googly and his effort tightened the noose. Iftikhar nabbed wickets off consecutive deliveries and in the end, it was Pakistan's first and second change bowlers who did most of the damage. Shoaib Akhtar looked off boil for most part of the innings since he was coming after a long lay-off.


Pakistan in their response started off slowly with Butt and Manzoor taking their time to settle down since the run rate required was just around 4.4. It was a patient start by the openers who were more intent on protecting their wickets and setting a solid base. It was a different approach to Sri Lanka's earlier in the day, as the batsmen saw off the opening bowlers, who kept things fairly tight. That the Powerplays cost only 32 and 23 runs respectively didn't cause too many worries in the Pakistan camp as they chased a below par score. The consistent Butt was very watchful against good bowling but duly punished the wayward ones. He looked very assured from the start and even took on Kulasekara for 12 runs in an over. His partner wasn't quite so assured though and often made the mistake of shuffling across too far and cramping himself for room to cut. Manzoor played out several dot balls, shouldered arms to Kulasekara deliveries and when he realised the off side wasn't his favoured area, he shuffled across but crucially he did not lose his wicket and the way he handled Murali in the later stages showed that he had found his feet. But the interest remained to how these two will tackle Mendis and his variations.


Strangely Mendis looked a far cry from the bowler who had decimated the Indian batting line-up in the Asia Cup final on this very ground. He was mostly on the shorter side as the batsmen cut and pulled him with ease. The way they used their feet against him was brilliant and Mendis himself looked unsure off what had hit him. Though he went 41 in seven overs the fact that he was not among the wickets hurt Lankans the most. Finally the first wicket fell in the 37th over to Murali but the scorecard read 168 at that point. The rest of the innings was just a formality as Butt worked his way to his eight century and helped his team to an eight wicket victory.




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