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International Twenty20 Series
Sri Lanka Win By 37 Runs So that's first blood of the two-match series to the hosts. The final match is at the same venue on Sunday. Pakistan were unable to match a spirited showing with the ball with a complementary performance with the bat.
Over 17.4 Perera 1-4-0-W 95-10 - Ajmal, the animated character that he is, isn't going to go down without a fight. He quickly smears four through the on-side, and then misses his next big heave across the line. WICKET! He goes again, and this time there is a faint edge involved. Sangakkara pouches it. That's the ball game, folks.
Over 17 Malinga 0-W-0-1-1-1 90-9 - WICKET! Malinga offers Gul a couple of slower deliveries in a row, and the tail-ender bites at the second one in unsuccessful fashion. Thirimanne gets under the catch at midwicket, almost overruns the ball, but back pedals enough to hang on safely. Ajmal is the last man in. Chandimal later almost gets to the ball on the full at fine-leg, but can't get his fingers there on the dive. That would have sealed the result, instead the contest will go into another over.
Over 16 Senanayake 6-W-0-0-1-1 87-8 - Shehzad hoists six high and hard over the on-side, but is then too delicate for his own good. WICKET! The big shot is followed by an attempt at a deft dribble down to thirdman, but he misses the shot and looks on in dismay as his stumps are rattled. It was a straight one, no real turn in that one. He was Pakistan's last, lone hope. Sami is in now.
Over 15 Perera 1-0-0-2-0-2 79-7 - Perera back into the attack in a bid to make up for an expensive first over and his return blow weighs in as a short ball, which cops Gul flush on the helmet. The tail-ender is momentarily rattled, but after an apology from the bowler walks it off.
Over 14 Senanayake W-1-W-0-2wd-1-0 74-7 - Afridi, true to irresponsible form, thinks he can tonk the ball out of the ground before getting his eye in. He danced down the wicket, didn't get to the pitch of the ball, copped an edge on the back of the turn and rubbernecked to see short thirdman to take a good catch. The bowler is delighted. That's a big breakthrough for Sri Lanka, who look set to clinch first blood of the two-match series here. Tanvir in now. WICKET! He doesn't last long at all, instead run-out at the striker's end as Dilshan's return throw from midwicket rockets in to Sangakkara, who whips off the bails in a flash. Tanvir isn't in the frame. Pakistan imploding. Gul in now.
Over 13 Malinga 1-W-0-0-1-1 70-5 - The pace ace's return to the attack brings the key breakthrough for Sri Lanka. Akmal wasn't going to bail out of his pull shot, despite the bounce getting big on him. The result was a big top-edge, which ultimately holed out to Kulasekara at mid-off. The fielder waited a long time for that to drop from the night sky to pocket it safely in the end. Afridi in now and ready to tuck into some potential theatrics.
Over 12 Senanayake 4-1-0-1-1-1 67-4 - Deft timing from the right-handed Akmal brings him four run delicately through thirdman. When the ball is pitched up, though, he is eager to get onto the frontfoot as much as possible. There is turn to be combated, and he is not taking any chances, stifling it into the ground with textbook shot selection for singles.
Over 11 Lokuarachchi 0-1wd-4wd-1-1-0-1-0 59-4 - Bowler and wicketkeeper combine in an attempt to have Shehzad stumped down the leg-side, but instead it's a wide, and then another. Sri Lanka are far too prepared to give away extras in a rather modest chase.
Over 10 Mathews 0-W-1-0-4-0 51-4 - A mere three runs into his three-over spell, Mathews strikes again in his fourth. WICKET! It takes a sublime catch on the fence to get rid of Malik, who can hardly believe his eyes as Perera holds onto a blinder. At full stretch and midair, the fielder at thirdman gets both hands to the ball and holds on. He was glad not to have the ball bobble out of his hands once his elbows hit the deck. Malik, on the upper cut, wanted that squarer. Alas. Akmal in now. 51 up for Pakistan. At the halfway mark of the innings, the tourists need another 82 runs from 60 balls to draw first blood of the two-match series.
Over 9 Lokuarachchi 0-1-0-1-3-4 46-3 - The leg-spinner is into the attack. It's his first over in international cricket in almost five years. Not much turn, but a reliance on superb accuracy, and a bit of additional bounce. The asking rate is more than eight to the over now, on a slow pitch, one of these Pakistanis need to contemplate upping their ante, and soon. Shehzad does exactly that in the face of a lame, short ball, duly fetching four runs for his heave marginally wide of midwicket's clasping hands.
Over 8 Mathews 0-0-1-0-0-0 37-3 - Shehzad and Malik bordering on digging their side into an insurmountable hole here. Something has to give, either way. Sri Lanka on top of the contest thanks to another fine over from their vice-captain.
Over 7 Perera 1-5wd-1-2-2-1-1 36-3 - Five more wides from the hands of a Sri Lankan seamer, with Pakistan again gifted freebies down the leg-side. Later Malik edges to Mathews at 'fly' slip. DROPPED! He can't quite get there. It would have gone straight to a regulation first slip, so that'll go down as a chance foresaken.
Over 6 Mathews 0-0-0-0-0-2 23-3 - One really has to question Malik's presence in this side. The former captain is past his former glory despite his domestic side's Twenty20 triumph recently. The substandard right-hander seems intent on blocking as much as possible, and then pokes two down to thirdman. I'm all for playing one's self in, but this is too pedestrian.
Over 5 Kulasekara 0-5wd-0-0-0-0-4 21-3 - Wasteful from the seamer, who coughs up five ugly wides down the leg-side. It didn't swing, just came out of the hand badly. Later he spews to the same area again, with Shehzad this time getting bat on it to wield four through the vacant fine-leg area. The fielder was up in the circle, so that was always racing to the fence.
Over 4 Mathews 0-0-0-0-2lb-W 12-3 - Sri Lanka, like Pakistan, delaying the entry of their spin bowlers. Instead, another right-arm seamer is into the fray. Having beaten Latif outside the off-stump on a couple of occasions, the bowler cleverly tweaks his line to something closer to the batsman. The edge ensues, with Jayawardene getting to the catch at slip. There is some questions around the legitimacy of the take, though, despite the fielder's straight celebration. Television replays prove inconclusive, there might have been grass between fingers and ball, and at the end of it all Latif stays. Benefit of the doubt to the batsman, right there. Jayawardene isn't happy at all. He thought that was a clean catch - fair and square. Sri Lanka get there man in the end anyway, with an edge to wicketkeeper Sangakkara on the dive bringing Latif's downfall at the end of a tight, probing over from the all-rounder. Malik in now.
Over 3 Kulasekara 0-1-0-1-0-0 10-2 - We've some very ordinary running between the wickets. Here is no exception, with Shehzad seeking a suicidal single, slipping, losing his bat but ultimately regaining his ground in the nick of time. He eventually gets off the deck, redfaced and foolish in his inadequate communication with his batting partner. Meanwhile, a short run well spotted by umpire de Silva at the non-striker's end. Lazy stuff from Pakistan, this.
Over 2 Malinga 4-0-0-0-2-0 8-2 - Mumbai's top wicket-taker in this year's Indian Premier League duly shares the new ball with Kulasekara. Plenty of slingy, full deliveries from him, but no characteristically toe-cracking yorkers yet. Shehzad, meanwhile, won't let some rogue width go unpunished and duly whips four through the on-side.
Over 1 Kulasekara W-W-0-0-0-2 2-2 - WICKET! Sri Lanka enjoy a remarkably strong start as Hafeez perishes for a first-ball quacker. The Pakistan captain latched onto a bit of width, but struck the ball straight to backward point. Dilshan was at hand for a good catch. Ansar, looking to make up for an ordinary debut behind the wicket, also lasts all of one delivery. WICKET! In a near exact replica of the previous dismissal, he too lambastes the ball straight into Dilshan's welcoming hands at backward point, again. Shehzad watches in despair from the non-striker's end. Now Latif is the new man at the crease, surviving the hat-trick delivery but later almost holing out on the pull in the midwicket region. Lady Luck pays him a visit, thuogh, with the ball plugging into no-man's land in fortunate fashion.
Pakistan's Pursuit All and sundry back on the field after a quick change of innings. Kulasekara has the new ball in hand. Hafeez and Shehzad to open the batting.
Sri Lanka End On 132 For Seven The last three overs brought the home side 41 runs on the back of Kulasekara and Perera's cavalier stand. Their alliance - a new eight-wicket record for Sri Lanka in T20I cricket - amounted to an unbeaten 43. Tanvir's spell was key initially, but Hafeez fell into the trap of affording his other seamers an extended stay in the attack. He should have allowed Afridi Gul's final two overs. This pitch is sluggish, an this isn't a bad score after all. Pakistan will find their pursuit tough going. Sri Lanka will rely heavily on their slow bowlers.
Over 20 Gul 0-4-1-1b-2wd-6-2 132-7 - My suggestion isn't heeded. Gul does get the last over, vindicating the choice by beating Kulasekara outside the off-stump but then tonked through midwicket for four. The slower ball didn't work on the second occasion. Then an ugly full toss, not cashed in on, though. Kulasekara settles for just the one pinpointed down the ground. Lame overthrows, and then a wide, certainly don't help a frustrated Pakistan's cause either. And them more pain for Gul, with Kulasakera's fine timing spooning six wide of long-on.
Over 19 Ajmal 2-1-1lb-1-1lb-4 116-7 - Ajmal restores the order, making up for the previous over's expense on Gul's behalf by firing in a tight closing over, bar one full toss which is slapped down the ground for four by Perera. Hafeez won't want a seamer bowling the final over of the innings. Afridi will probably get it.
Over 18 Gul 2-2-0-4-6-1 106-7 - The right-arm seamer is back into the attack. Afridi hangs his head in embarrassment after letting the ball scoot through his legs in allowing Sri Lanka a freebie run. Tanvir, later, is nowhere close enough to the top edge that balloons over his head on the on-side for four. Perera backed away, the bowler followed him, and the batsman followed through with the shot regardless. All is well that ends well, for Sri Lanka at least. He isn't done yet, lacing the next delivery straight into the stands beyond the long-on fence for six. Gul, unrattled, then responds with a toe-cracking yortker to close an otherwise expensive over on the quiet. 15 runs off the over. 100 up for Sri Lanka.
Over 17 Ajmal W-W-1-0-0-1 91-7 - WICKET! The wicketkeeper finally gets something right, swooping in on a drop'n'run for one and orchestrating a direct-hit at the non-striker's end. Lokuarachchi put in the dive, but is all too late. It's touch and go, as multiple television replays reveal, but the third umpire sticks him in the end. We are into the lower-order now. WICKET! Perera in now. All he can do is watch from the non-striker's end, though, as Thirimanne falls too, reverse sweeping again and again failing. It's an easy catch to backward point-cum-shot thirdman. Kulasekara is the new man at the crease now.
Over 16 Hafeez 1-4-1-4-1-1 89-5 - The right-hander meets the ball on the full, fetching four on the sweep as fine-leg can't beat the ball to the fence. Thirimanne later takes his cue, picking his spot with a piece of premeditation and following through with a spank off one knee, which lands four through midwicket. Sri Lanka stepping on the gas here, and not a moment too soon.
Over 15 Ajmal 1-0-4-1-1-1-1 77-5 - Cocky shot selection from Thirimanne, who tries to combat Ajmal's variations with the reverse sweep but can't connect. He then settles on the more orthodox drive, riding an edge through gully and point for four. The fielder to the left of the ball was slow in chasing it. The bowler will want better from his flatfooted team-mate next time around. Eight runs off the over, and Sri Lanka will consider that a big success against the supremacy of Ajmal.
Over 14 Hafeez 0-1-0-0-1-1 69-5 - Hafeez darts in a quicker delivery, which strikes Thirimanne on the pad. The wicketkeeper is convinced it's out lbw, but television replays soon reveal that the angle was slipping down the leg-side. So much pressure on Sri Lanka here, who are fetching far too many dot balls here. The pitch is slow, indeed, but they must get to somewhere beyond 120 if they want to win here.
Over 13 Ajmal 1-0-0-0-W-1 66-5 - A belated entry into the attack for Pakistan's kingpin spinner, and just in time in order to allow him his full complement of four overs. WICKET! His dominance soon tolls, with Mathews' ugly mow unsuccessful. Pinned down by a couple of dot balls, the all-rounder wanted to break the shackles by sailing something hefty into the midwicket stands. The ball, in a true reflection of the sluggish nation of the pitch, took a veritable eternity to arrive. When it eventually did, Mathews had pretty much completed the shot and left a huge gap for the ball to snipe through. It did just that, duly crashing into the stumps. Lokuarachchi at the crease now. He hasn't batted in international cricket since 2007.
Over 12 Hafeez 1-0-1-1-1-0 64-4 - Still no Ajmal. Hafeez continues. Plenty of stop-start shot selection from the Sri Lankan pair. This pitch is sluggish, not offering the batting side much value for follow-through. The outfield is pretty large too, unlike the postage stamp venues we witnessed in the Indian Premier League recently.
Over 11 Afridi 0-0-1-4-1-1 60-4 - Pakistan are stifling the run-rate, forcing the Sri Lankan batsmen to chance their collective arm with a few risky singles. Thirimanne later released the pressure, though, freeing his arms for four lofted over mid-off. Afridi won't mind that too much. Anything marginally miscued will go straight to hand across a heavily packed off-side.
Over 10 Hafeez 0-1-1-0-0-1 53-4 - Spin from both ends now, as the new Pakistan skipper brings himself into the attack. Ansar is struggling behind the stumps, struggling to gather cleanly on a few more occasions. The tourists, by the way, have picked a different wicketkeeper for each of the three formats, so we aren't going to see Ansar beyond Sunday's second T20I.
Over 9 Afridi 0-2-1lb-0-0-0 50-4 - T20I cricket's leading wicket-taker, Pakistan's former captain, wily leg-spinner - call him what you like, Afridi is into the attack. He starts with a shout for lbw, with Mathews not getting any bat on his attempted paddle. It pitched well outside the line, though, so not out. Not much turn from Afridi, but he is sure to benefit from the additional bounce on offer. MISSED STUMPING! Ansar, meanwhile, fluffs an opportunity. Thirimanne drifted down the pitch, missed a lazy shot, and was well out of his crease. The debuting wicketkeeper dropped the ball instead of whipping off the bails, though, allowing the batsman plenty of time to recover his ground. 50 up for Sri Lanka, at least.
Over 8 Sami 0-W-4-0-4-0 47-4 - Sami's return to the attack proves an instant success for Pakistan, while Chandimal's hoick across the line plummets his side further into the quagmire. The right-hander's heave is beaten all ends up, with the pace crashing through the gate to castle the stumps. Thirimanne, on T20I debut, is the new man in. The former openers starts in impressive fashion, whipping out an exquisite cover drive to orchestrate his maiden four in this format of the game. Then another, this one deliberately lofted through the vacant slip cordon. Sami isn't learning. Pitching it up is good, plugging it short is bad.
Over 7 Tanvir 2-0-0-0-1-0 39-3 - Tanvir will complete his four-over complement in one straight go and its last two balls are delivered from around the wicket. The change of angle doesn't trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen, but does keep their hopes of finding the fence at bay. All in all, three for 12 in four from the unorthodox left-armer. Top job, indeed.
Over 6 Gul 0-1-1-3-0-0 36-3 - Sami is yanked out of the attack. Gul returns. A severe lack of communication sees Mathews and Chandimal meet each other mid-pitch. The former turns on his heels in a desperate attempt to return to the non-striker's crease. He gets there safely, eventually, but would have been shorty by a Country Mile had Malik struck with a direct-hit. Chandimal later attempts to go large down the ground, but makes do with just three after failing to time the shot appropriately. Tight return over, indeed, from Gul.
Over 5 Tanvir 3-1-0-1wd-W-0-0 31-3 - Chandimal drops'n'calls for one, but then hesitates and would have been a goner at the non-striker's end had Latif's attempt at a direct-hit been on target. The change of strike works a treat for Pakistan, though, as the tourists remove the dangerous Sangakkara. Fluid for the Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League, the left-hander's timing is found wanting on this occasion. WICKET! A big, booming drive was his ambition, but a fat inside edge onto the stumps is what he coughed up instead. A lack of pace undid him. He played marginally too soon. Tanvir has three scalps. Sri Lanka in trouble. Mathews in now, and soon beaten by a veritable peach. It pitched on off-stump and jagged away off the seam, almost clipping the bails on the way through to the wicketkeeper.
Over 4 Sami 1-4-4-4-0-1 26-2 - This is the right-arm seamer's first over in international cricket in about 18 months. It's not a sound return, yet, instead some short'n'wide fodder spanked through point for back-to-back fours by Sangakkara. His fourth delivery is of a tighter line, but now too full, so Sangakkara latches onto it once again for four more on the drive.
Over 3 Tanvir 0-0-2-0-0-1 12-2 - WICKET! Dilshan middles one, too much in fact, as the ball screams down the throat of the man stationed at backward square-leg, or a pretty square fine-leg if you like. That was a poor delivery, admittedly, and would have been called a wide had the batsman not met leather. He, unfortunately, picked out the fielder to perfection. A metre or two on either side of Gul and that would have been a one-bounce four. Chandimal in now. Two slips and a gully in place for him, but still he finds the gap with a single off the edge.
Over 2 Gul 3-0-1-1wd-1-0-1 10-1 - Pakistan won't have a spinner share the new ball today, instead coupling Gul with his fellow seamer. Dilshan meets the right-armer's first delivery with a bit of disdain, swatting it down the ground for three and leaving Sangakkara to a couple of sighters, after which the former captain moves off the mark with a single worked off his hips. Initial signs have plenty of bounce in this wicket, but it needs to be well utilised, not wasted down the leg-side on the back of a lame wide from Gul. Sangakkara later decides it's time to tee off, but his lavish loft only results in a thick edge skewed to thirdman on the bounce.
Over 1 Tanvir 2-0-W-0-0-1 3-1 - The left-arm seamer's line isn't great at the start, allowing the right-handed Jayawardene to tuck a couple down to fine-leg. The bowler quickly sorts out his approach, though, squaring the batsman up with one that pitches and straightens. WICKET! A looping leading-edge is the result, with the Sri Lanka looking on in dismay as Malik takes the catch in the cover region. The fielder almost made a meal of that, but eventually took it over his shoulder. Sangakkara is the new man at the crease.
Sri Lanka's Innings With the national anthems, handshakes and other pleasantries out the way, umpires de Silva and Martinesz and the Pakistan XI head out to the middle for the start of play. It'll be Dilshan and Jayawardene to open the batting for the hosts. Tanvir will take the new ball, but it won't be long before the slow bowlers take over.
Conditions Resident pitch pundit Russell Arnold has surveyed the playing surface, finding it hard and sporting a few cracks. He also suggests some 'patches of concern', which might make for some unpredictable bounce. The crowd, meanwhile, is sparse but slowly filling up amid the humidity. No prediction of rain, so hooray for that.
Sri Lanka XI Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara.
Pakistan XI Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Khalid Latif, Shakeel Ansar, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul.
Team News Wicketkeeper-batsman Shakeel Ansar - all of 33 years old - will make his debut for Pakistan today. Sri Lanka have two debutants in their ranks. Leg-spinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi, who last played ODI cricket for his country in 2007, and off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake are in the XI today.
Toss Home skipper Mahela Jayawardene has triumphed in the flip of the coin and Sri Lanka will bat first.
Precursor The 2012 Indian Premier League marathon is over, thank goodness, but Twenty20 competition remains centre stage as Mahela Jayawardene and Mohammad Hafeez's posses begin their respective build-ups to the World Twenty20.
Greetings Hello and welcome to our over-by-over commentary of the first Twenty20 International of the two-match series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sooriyawewa, Hambantota.
Read the views of former England captain Nasser Hussain with skysports.com.