Kumar Sangakkara (58), who became only the fourth batsmen to cross 12,000 runs in ODIs when he reached 29, was the architect of their win, writes Ahmed Rizvi.
Sri Lanka chase down Pakistan in thrilling victory
DUBAI // Last week, at an International Cricket Council’s Under 19 World Cup event, Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad had talked about his disappointment at being dropped from the U19 team for a series against India.
As he made the journey back to his hometown, Shehzad revealed he spent most of it in tears. Soon though, that pain was replaced by a resolve to win back his place in the side and, it seems, those embers are still burning inside and continue to determine the youngster’s journey on the international stage.
Shehzad has been able to avoid extended lean spells with the bat in his 37-match one-day International career till now, thanks to that determination and, after a duck and an 11 in his past two innings, the 22-year-old batsman scripted his second three-figure score in four matches and the fourth century of his ODI career.
Anchored by the opener’s 124, Shehzad’s highest score in international cricket till now, Pakistan posted 284 for four after being asked to bat, but Sri Lanka, who came agonisingly close to winning the first game, prevailed by three wickets in a wildly-swinging finish to level the five-match ODI series.
Kumar Sangakkara (58), who became only the fourth batsmen to cross 12,000 runs in ODIs when he reached 29 on Friday night, was the architect of their win, yanking the spotlight from Shehzad with a masterclass in controlled aggression. There were a few hiccups after his dismissal, though.
Sri Lanka seemed to be cruising with Sangakkara at the crease, reaching 153 for two from 30 overs and needing a further 132 from the remaining 20 overs. The 2013 ODI Cricketer of the Year was, however, bowled off a bottom-edge by Saeed Ajmal following a 93-run partnership for the third-wicket with Dinesh Chandimal (44) in the 32nd over.
Junaid Khan then castled Chandimal and Thisara Perera (5) in successive overs and the Lankans slipped from 159 for two to 173 for five. They needed 85 runs from the last 10 overs, but the 19-run 42nd over by Sohail Tanvir turned the game back in Lanka’s favour.
Nuwan Kulasekara’s (32) dismissal in the 43rd over raised the hopes of the Pakistan fans once again, even though Sri Lanka needed only 49 from 42 balls at the end of the over with captain Angelo Mathews still at the crease.
Junaid brought them further cheer, uprooting Seekkuge Prasanna’s stumps, but Mathews (47) and Dimuth Karunaratne (15) kept their calm to take Sri Lanka across the line with two balls to spare.