Mathews gem seals series for Sri Lanka - 06-18-2012, 02:58 PM
Pakistan's journey to defeat in the final game that decided the series was an emotional ride that had several moments of satisfaction and relief, but ultimately ended in frustration and regret. The satisfaction was a result of a significantly improved batting performance that cast aside memories of a dispiriting collapse in the previous ODI; they experienced relief after wriggling themselves out of difficult situations they'd themselves created; the brief but costly spells of indisciplined bowling was a source of frustration but the emotion that will linger for a while to come will be the regret of an insipid display in the field that undermined each forward step. Amid all this, Angelo Mathews was a figure of calm and assuredness and not for the first time, he rescued his team from dire straits and fashioned a thrilling victory with the tail.
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75 overs Sri Lanka 97 for 4 (Chandimal 32*) need another 151 to beat Pakistan 247 for 7 (Farhat 56, Akmal 55*, Mendis 2-30)
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Some insipid Pakistan fielding threatened to squander their strong position set up by two early blows in the Sri Lankan chase, but the fall of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene just before the halfway mark ensured the visitors stood an excellent chance of leveling the series.
Sangakkara had been dropped on 35 by Umar Gul in the fourth ODI; he went on to make 97, and Sri Lanka eventually won. Today, it was the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed who faltered, failing to hold on to a straightforward chance off Sangakkara when on 25. The run conceded off that spilled catch brought up the half-century stand between Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal.
Pakistan's bowlers, at the start of the chase, were a touch indisciplined, with both Gul and Sohail Tanvir bowling wides down the leg side, though Sri Lanka's batsmen adopted a cautious approach. Tillakaratne Dilshan got going with a firmly driven boundary down the ground, but was cleaned up when Tanvir went round the wicket and angled one in to knock back leg stump, after he'd bowled in the channel outside off earlier in the over. Eleven dot balls later, Tanvir went over the wicket to Upul Tharanga, who defended inside the line while playing for the angle against a delivery that went on straight to remove off stump.
With two new batsmen out in the middle, the pressure was on Sri Lanka but Pakistan didn't do a good job of maintaining it. A straight drive from Sangakkara was misfielded by Tanvir at mid-on, resulting in a boundary. He was the culprit once again in the 16th over, the start of the bowling Powerplay, kicking away a ball to the ropes while trying to field in the deep, before Sarfraz topped all that with his reprieve of Sangakkara. In the interim, Sangakkara and Chandimal picked off singles and gradually built up momentum.
But, Pakistan, who had their heads in their hands as the halfway mark approached, were soon smiling again. Sangakkara defended a delivery from Shahid Afridi and set off, not realising soon enough that Sarfraz had quickly gathered the ball on the bounce to run him out. Jayawardene loosely pushed at his first ball, lobbing a simple return catch to Afridi. Two wickets in two deliveries and the overall significance of those lapses in the field had lessened considerably.
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