Pakistan see off sorry Sri Lanka
Pakistan eased to an eight-wicket victory over an out-of-sorts Sri Lanka in the first one-day international in Dubai.
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi announced his return from international retirement with figures of 3-27 as his team hurried their opponents out for a paltry 131 in 40.3 overs.
Dinesh Chandimal’s 28 was the top score in that total, but Pakistan showed their were no demons in the pitch as they coasted past their target for the loss of both openers.
Imran Farhat, with 50, and Younus Khan, who hit an unbeaten 56, underpinned victory in the first of the five-match series.
Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan opted to bat first but his day went downhill from there.
He was first out for four in the second over and then watched on as Pakistan’s spinners took control. Between them Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal took 7-72.
Pakistan’s batsmen lingered only 21.5 overs to claim the win, though Sri Lanka started well when Suranga Lakmal had Hafeez held at mid-on for five.
Farhat and Younus then embarked on a second-wicket partnership worth 103.
Sri Lanka’s key bowler Lasith Malinga failed to fire, shipping 35 in five overs without success, while Dilhara Fernando also struggled to make an impact on his return.
Farhat became Lakmal’s second victim shortly after making his half-century, falling lbw with the score on 115 but by then the result was in no doubt.
Younus saw things through to the end, closing with seven fours from 57 deliveries while Sarfraz Ahmed made four from seven balls at the other end.
Earlier, Dilshan dragged on to Aizaz Cheema to leave Sri Lanka 12 for one.
Having got the better of Sri Lanka in the recent Test series between the two, Pakistan were looking to impose themselves further on the tourists at their adopted home, and they snared the key wicket of Kumar Sangakkara in the 11th over.
The score had progressed to 36 when the in-form batsman fell to Abdul Razzaq in his first over, trying to pinch a single but feathering a chance behind.
Removing him for five was a real boost for Pakistan, and when they sent Upal Tharanga back as well - the opener going for 25 when he skied Hafeez to Cheema at mid-on - they were in control with Sri Lanka stuttering on 66 for three.
Afridi then took the ball and typically assumed centre-stage in doing so, trapping Chandimal in front for a breezy 28.
Afridi was involved in the next dismissal too, with Angelo Mathews attempting to take a quick single off him, only to be sent back and left short of his ground when Razzaq smartly threw to the keeper.
Sri Lanka's innings was unravelling and debutant Kosala Kulasekara became the sixth batsman to fall when he went for a six-ball duck, chipping Hafeez to Umar Gul at mid-off.
The procession continued, Mahela Jayawardene going for 24 when he could only find the hands of Razzaq at short fine-leg off Ajmal, with his departure at 120 for seven signalling the beginning of the end.
Afridi then tempted Seekkuge Prasanna out of his crease and had him stumped for five, with Ajmal condemning Lakmal to the same fate.
With one wicket needed, Afridi could even afford to shell Malinga before cleaning him up for 11.