Pakistan take damp squib
Pakistan prevailed at Pallekele in a low-scoring, rain-reduced first one-day international of three with Sri Lanka.
A top-order collapse meant the hosts mustered only 135 for seven from 42 overs and Pakistan overhauled a revised target of as many with 7.5 overs to spare.
Umar Gul, who took the first three wickets in consecutive overs, and Mohammad Sami, playing his first ODI in over five years, capitalised on seaming conditions with 3-24 and 3-19 respectively. Number seven Lahiru Thirimanne offered Sri Lanka’s chief resistance with an unbeaten 42.
Although Pakistan lost two early wickets, first Mohammad Hafeez and Misbah-ul-Haq and then Misbah and Umar Akmal shared fifty partnerships to set up victory ahead of Saturday’s second game at the same venue.
Mahela Jayawardene was soon made to regret his decision to bat first as his side slumped to 41 for five inside the first 15 overs, with Gul and Sami doing the damage.
In the fifth over Tillakaratne Dilshan skied to mid-on. Then Jayawardene was trapped in front and Dinesh Chandimal was bowled for nought. Sami soon had Kumar Sangakkara lbw and Angelo Mathews caught at first slip in back-to-back overs.
Following the first rain delay, off-spinner Hafeez bowled Upal Tharanga but missed a chance to run Thirimanne out on 10 from short midwicket.
Hafeez made amends by snaring Thisara Perera leg before for 17 after the second stoppage. He then suffered the frustration of seeing wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed failing to hold a thin edge from Thirimanne on 13.
Thirimanne and Nuwan Kulasekara rebuilt until a third delay at 107 for seven in the 37th over reduced the match to 42 a side.
Kulasekara, shelled by third man Sohail Tanvir on 14 off Gul, was caught by the same fielder off Sami four runs later in the final over of the innings.
Lasith Malinga gave Sri Lanka the riposte they needed by having Azhar Ali caught behind and Kulasekara soon bowled Younus Khan to leave Pakistan 27 for two.
Hafeez, who was nearly run out by mid-off Perera on 12, and Misbah rebuilt - the former lofting spinner Rangana Herath over mid-off for the game’s only six.
Herath exacted revenge by having Hafeez stumped for 37 but Umar dominated the next stand and overtook his captain, who was run out for 30 by Mathews’ relay from mid-off after being sent back on a single.
However, that wicket fell with two needed for victory and Afridi took the winning run to leg off Perera to leave Umar unbeaten on 36.