Sri Lanka close out Pakistan to level the series
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Player:TM Dilshan, SHT Kandamby, Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, BAW Mendis, M Muralitharan, DPMD Jayawardene
Event:Sri Lanka in Pakistan 2008/09

DateLine: 21st January 2009


If yesterday Pakistan put on a determined performance, today Sri Lanka shut Pakistan out of the match. It was anticipated that the match would be a closely contested one but other than Butt and Malik no other player put on a strong performance as Pakistan lost the match by 129 runs. Murali and Mendis shared three wickets each to send Pakistan to defeat to level the series.


It was a much more disciplined batting performance from Sri Lanka today. Though there were various mini-crisis points the Lankan batting carried the team to a competitive scoreline. Dilshan kickstarted Sri Lanka's charge to level the series with a signature innings as he attempted and executed some audacious strokes early in his innings. When the strokes came off they looked spectacular. He swung Shoaib over midwicket off a free-hit, survived a close shout for lbw before unfurling a couple of pulls and a cut against the same bowler. Shoaib leaked four fours in his second over and was taken out of the attack. Dilshan, however, continued aggressively against the other bowlers.


However, Sri Lanka continued to lose the plot at the other end. Jayasuriya was out hit wicket for the first time in his career and Sangakkara ran himself out. It would have been worse for Sri Lanka but Kamran Akmal dropped Kandamby early in his innings, Kandamby was on 16 then. Kandamby went on to pick his singles and two in a calm manner to ensure the score kept moving. Akmal later sought redemption with a sharp, low catch to his right to get rid of Jayawardene. Later, after the soft dismissals of Kandamby and Jayawardene, Chamara Kapugedera ensured Sri Lanka didn't disintegrate in the end overs.


Pakistan got off to a bad start as they lost Khurram Manzoor in the very first over as he was trapped lbw by Kulasekara and then it got worse when Younus Khan played on to leave the Pakistan at 14 for 2. in the very next over, Misbah edged behind to leave the innings tottering at 17 for 3 and the onus of rebuilding the innings went to Butt and skipper Malik. Both did not get bogged down by the enormous task that laid before them as they rebuilded the innings and then injected some momentum into the innings. Butt continued from where he left yesterday as he drove, cut and pulled himself to his tenth ODI half-century while Malik mixed caution with aggression in his knock. Though Malik was seen limping his innings did not lack the vitality that was needed at that hour.


Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik helped Pakistan absorb the pressure of quick wickets at the start, but both fell at the half-way mark during the run-chase. The 108-run partnership between the pair raised Pakistan's hopes, but their exit put Sri Lanka firmly in control of the game. Muttiah Muralitharan, brought into the attack in the 22nd over, struck the vital blow in his second over, removing Malik with a doosra that spun and bounced to get the edge. Sanath Jayasuriya struck in the next over as Butt chipped a leading edge to cover. Suddenly the balance of the match shifted into the Lankan territory as they seized the initiative from the grasp of Pakistan. Mendis who looked very ordinary till then began to regain his former as his deliveries began to fizz off the surface and the Pakistani batsmen with the run-rate mounting began to panic. The rest of the batting collapsed without putting any semblance of fight as Sri Lanka lived to see another day.


Mahela broke the record for most catches taken in ODI's as he went ahead of Mohammad Azharuddin's 156 when he caught Butt at short cover while Murali is just two short of 500 ODI wickets. The final match of the series starts on January 23rd which will decide the winner of the series.


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