The left-arm seamer cuts through the Pakistan top-order to help Sri Lanka win the first ODI against Pakistan.
Thushara spell guides Sri Lanka to 36-run victory
DAMBULLA // The left-arm fast bowler Thilan Thushara claimed three wickets to steer Sri Lanka to a 36-run win over Pakistan in the first one-day international in Dambulla. The hosts piled up a modest 232 runs but went on to frustrate Pakistan with some tight bowling to skittle them out for 196 in 44.4 overs. Fast bowler Umer Gul was the unlikely top performer with the bat for the tourists, scoring 33 runs after Thushara claimed three for 29 from eight overs to trigger an early collapse. Thushara, supported by the seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, cut through the Pakistan top order with the key wickets of Kamran Akmal (20), Shahid Afridi (27) and Younus Khan (12). Kulasekara also claimed two for 30, bowling Shoaib Malik (nine) with an unplayable leg-cutter and Mohammad Yousuf (four). Having collapsed to 78 for five, the tourists struggled to keep pace with the run rate. Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan bowled a tight spell on his return from injury and picked up two for 46 from his allotted 10 overs. However, Sri Lanka were given a late scare with Gul cracking a 21-ball 33 and Mohammad Aamer scoring 23. The ninth-wicket pair added 62 runs to drag themselves back into the contest before Mahela Jayawardene hit the stumps to run out Aamer. Earlier, Angelo Mathews top-scored with 43 from 50 balls as the hosts struggled on a difficult pitch. Captain Kumar Sangakkara scored 36 and Jayawardene made 33 before being run out. Sri Lanka slumped to 131 for six at one stage before Mathews led a recovery. Muralitharan also proved useful with the bat with an entertaining 32 from 15 balls, an innings that included four fours and a six. *Reuters