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Sri Lanka makes 242

K.C. Vijaya Kumar

Akhtar scalps three

— PHOTO: AFP

DELIVERING THE GOODS:Shoaib Akhtar may have had his share of troubles, but was skipper Shahid Afridi's main man on Tuesday, with a three for 41.

Dambulla: Sri Lanka spluttered to 242 for nine in 50 overs as Pakistan bowlers led by Shoaib Akhtar struck in the Asia Cup match that commenced at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium here on Tuesday afternoon.

After skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene had propped up the middle over, all-rounder Angelo Mathews (55 n.o., 61b, 4x4) lent some spirit to the final overs.

On a pitch that has not exactly been a batsman's ally in the past, Sangakkara opted to bat. The seam-duo of Akhthar and Mohammed Asif largely managed to keep the Sri Lankan openers honest. Soon, Upul Tharanga nicked Akhtar to first slip and T. Dilshan's square-drive off Asif elicited a sharp catch from Umar Amin.

At 36 for two and with Akhtar having finished his first spell of 4-1-11-1, the combine of Sangakkara (42) and Jayawardene (54, 64b, 3x4) were back in the familiar terrain of lending brick and mortar. The experienced duo shared an 83-run third-wicket partnership off 102 balls.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene managed just 16 runs in the bowling Power Play between overs 11 and 15 before finding relief through a few fours. Sangakkara used the pace of the two Mohammads — Asif and Aamer — while Jayawardene after a streaky four through the slip cordon, late cut Shoaib Malik for four.

The alliance seemed to be firming up when Sangakkara's attempt to force counterpart Shahid Afridi past mid-wicket, proved fatal. Pakistan then found a welcome sliver of luck as Jayawardene's attempt to reverse sweep Malik feathered an inner edge to his pads but umpire Billy Doctrove upheld the lbw appeal and at 150 for four in 31.3 overs, Sri Lanka was at its tipping point. Soon the slump gathered hurtling speed as Thilan Samaraweera slashed and perished immediately to Abdul Razzak.

Akhtar then stepped in for his third spell and forced Chamara Kapugedera to hurry his shot and also evoked a fatal poke from Farveez Maharoof.

Mathews, with methods not very attractive but effective, added valuable runs while Nuwan Kulasekara, who offered brief companionship, was yorked by Aamer.

Lasith Malinga slogged hard and even managed a six. But, Aamer presently pegged back his stumps.

Then, Mathews ensured that slow but steady runs came in the last stretch including a batting Power Play of overs 45 to 49 that fetched a return of 34 runs for the loss of one wicket.

Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga c Butt b Akhtar 11 (16b, 2x4), T. Dilshan c Amin b Asif 18 (25b, 3x4), K. Sangakkara c U. Akmal b Afridi 42 (63b, 4x4), M. Jayawardene lbw b Malik 54 (64b, 3x4), T. Samaraweera c U. Akmal b Razzak 17 (22b), C. Kapugedera c U. Akmal b Akhtar 2 (6b), A. Mathews (not out) 55 (61b, 4x4), F. Maharoof c Akmal b Akhtar 1 (3b), N. Kulasekara b Aamer 14 (27b), L. Malinga b Aamer 16 (12b, 1x4, 1x6), M. Muralitharan (not out) 1 (1b), Extras (lb-5, w-6): 11. Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs): 242.

Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-36, 3-119, 4-150, 5-150, 6-160, 7-168, 8-211, 9-239.

Pakistan bowling: Akhtar 10-1-41-3, Asif 9-0-55-1, Aamer 10-1-57-2, Razzaq 8-0-27-1, Afridi 10-0-43-1, Malik 3-0-14-1 .

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