LAHORE // The spinner Muttiah Muralitharan took his 500th wicket in one-day internationals as Sri Lanka thrashed Pakistan by 234 runs to win their series 2-1 today. Pakistan, replying to Sri Lanka's 309 for five, were skittled out for just 75 in the third and final one-dayer with Muralitharan claiming two late wickets after the pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara (three for 17) and Thilan Thushara (three for 33) had created havoc.
It was Pakistan's lowest total against the Sri Lankans, their biggest loss to the visiting side and the second largest defeat in a one-day match between two Test-playing nations. The Sri Lanka opener Tillakaratne Dilshan thumped an unbeaten 137 to guide the tourists to a commanding total at Gaddafi stadium. Muralitharan picked up the last wicket, that of Sohail Khan, to become only the second bowler to take 500 one-day wickets.
He now needs another three to overhaul Pakistan's Wasim Akram and become the highest wicket-taker in one-dayers. He is already the highest wicket-taker in Tests with 769 victims. Pakistan never recovered from a disastrous start when Kulasekara and the left-armer Thushara sliced through their top order to reduce them to 22 for six inside 10 overs. Umar Gul, the pick of Pakistan's bowlers with three for 45, top scored with 27.
"It is never easy coming back in a three-match series after a big defeat," the Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said after his side's triumph. "But the players showed character and I think our batsmen weathered the most demanding conditions to give us a big total." The Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said his team's batting reflected their lack of international cricket over the past year.
"It was a very disappointing performance by us. Chasing 300 was never going to be easy but our batting show was not justified at all," he said. *Reuters