It was the re-laid pitch at Premedasa Stadium in Colombo with cracks suggesting the pitch will go slower and lower in the second innings. The highest successful chase was 271/2 by India way back in the last decade. Pakistan won the important toss and elected to pile a total for the Sri Lankans to chase. Captain Afridi mentioned 280 to be a winning total and his boys managed to score three less and closed the innings for 277 for 7 in their 50 overs. Sri Lanka in reply could only manage 266 for 9 as Pakistan edged victory by 11 runs. Afridi got man of the match for his 4 for 34 of 10 overs.
Pakistan got a decent start and managed 65 of their first 10 overs with only one wicket down. Hafeez and Akmal were going according to the plan before an uncalled mishap resulted in Hafeez getting run out. Akmal soon departed and the old horses, Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq came to the rescue. Both of them managed to pile up a stand of 108 before Yunus was caught by Jayawardene of Herath. Captain Shahid Afridi played away some blistering shots showing his boom boom style of batting while Misbah scored a pleasing 83 even after an injury. Sri Lankan pacemen were on the expensive side while the spin attack curbed the run flow lead by the wily old fox, Muttiah Murlidaran, who gave away just 35 of his 10 overs and bowled two superb overs during the batting power play.
Sri Lanka in response was slow but steady in the first power play as they did not lose any wickets. Dilshan started showering his charisma in the second power play and played some elegant cuts to match the asking rate. Tharanga played sensibly for his 33 while Dilshan got unlucky and got out to an inside edge for 41 of Afridi. Sangakara resurrected the Sri Lankan innings with Chamara Silva, who was finding it hard to score and was at 6 of 31 balls at one stage. The slow pace of Silva in the middle overs did it for the Lankans as the pressure kept piling up and wickets started to flurry at the other end to up the ante. Jayawardene and Samarveera got out, in single figures, to the duo Akhtar and Afridi. Mathews departed in an effort to clear the boundary. Silva did pick up his strike rate in the later overs but it had become a daunting task by then. Nuwan Kulasekara did give Lankans an outside chance as he played a cameo of 24 of just 14 balls and at one stage it looked like Sri Lanka might snatch the win out of the jaws of defeat. Shoaib Akthar started off his fiery spell and caused some jitters to Sri Lankan openers, Afridi was the hero with the ball and took four crucial wickets, and Samarweera was the best of them all as the ball deviated almost 10 degrees from its original line.
It was the first competitive and nail biting encounter in CWC 2011 and spectators had their money worth. Pakistan have taken a step ahead to book a berth in the Quarter-finals beating Sri Lanka at home. Sri Lanka still has few matches and a well balanced side to make it to the knock out stage.
PAK 277/7 (50)
SL 266/9 (50)
MOM Shahid Afridi
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